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Post office, city settle plans

Developer will appeal Phoenix building requirements

PHOENIX -- Plans to build a new post office appear back on track after the City Council agreed to hear a belated appeal of building requirements on a project that developers say is $250,000 over budget.

It was a very positive meeting. We still have some work to do to get the project within our budget, and the city is committed to do what they can to help us get it there, said Hugh Roche, project manager for the U.S. Postal Service.

Although the official deadline to appeal the planning commission's 21 conditions passed on Aug. 13, 1997, developer Robert MacLellan told city officials he misunderstood the appeals process, and Roche said Postal Service officials were unaware of the size of the cost overrun until early last month.

Plans for a new post office at West Bolz Road and West Church Street were nearly derailed after Postal Service officials learned of cost overruns. They have said that unless costs are reduced they will cancel the project and seek alternative sites or building plans.

The Postal Service is not building the post office, but is negotiating with developers for a long-term lease on a building that meets its specifications. The higher costs could affect its lease agreement.

City Planner Denis Murray said the City Council's decision to hear a late appeal was unusual but not unprecedented, having occurred at least one other time in the past five years. Once a letter formally requesting an appeal is received from MacLellan, a public hearing will be scheduled, probably in late February.

Costs in dispute include $10,334 for a traffic engineering study; $28,683 to relocate a US West phone box, $29,860 to install curbs, gutters, sidewalks and storm drains on West Bolz Road; $16,200 to create a right-turn lane onto Highway 99 from West Bolz Road and $18,000 for the loss of 4,000 feet of property frontage to widen West Bolz Road. A credit for improvements to the Highway 99 frontage has already erased $40,337 in transportation systems development charges on the project.

Officials from the city's planning, public works and engineering departments said the planning commission's concerns for traffic safety and required improvements are routine in Phoenix and other Jackson County cities.