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Arizona leaders aim to stop FAA building-height proposal

The Valley isn’t known for skyscrapers, but several of its taller structures could be affected if a Federal Aviation Administration proposal goes through.

The Phoenix Business Journal reports several Arizona lawmakers and business leaders are trying to slow — if not altogether stop — the proposal from going into effect.

At present, buildings within 10,000 feet from the end of a runway cannot exceed 250 feet in height, according to an independent study. The FAA proposal, which has reportedly gained a lot of support over the last year, would limit building heights to 160 feet — a 36 percent reduction.

As many as 8,000 existing and planned structures could be affected — including more than 60 in Arizona — if the proposal goes through, further irritating the already slow economic recovery.

Tempe’s First Solar building, West 6th apartment towers and future development of Papago Buttes Corporate Park are among the metro Phoenix projects that might be impacted by new height limitations.

The issue has raised such a ruckus that last month bipartisan legislation — co-sponsored by four members of Congress, including Arizona Reps. Matt Salmon and David Schweikert — was introduced in an effort to force the issue into a formal rulemaking process.

Changing it from a policy change to a rulemaking process would drag the proposal through a more in-depth and rigorous analysis process. However, the legislation, House Bill 4623, reportedly hasn’t gotten much traction yet, even though it has the support of more than a dozen real-estate industry groups.

An FAA spokesman said the agency recently extended time for public comment for another 30 days, now ending July 28.

Tempe Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mary Ann Miller said the timing of the proposal is poor considering the recent growth in downtown Tempe, which is close to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

“That could really change some of the plans and impact the future growth in Tempe,” Miller told the Phoenix Business Journal.