On Sept. 17, Flagstaff City Council met to discuss a proposed read through of a landmark overlay rezoning for Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, located at 224 Kendrick Street, and approval of a conditional use permit for The Commons at Sawmill Apartments.

The landmark proposal would lead to a National Register of Historic Places listing for the chapel, which would provide evidence of its significance to the Flagstaff community.

According to city staff, in order for the approval of the landmark overlay designation by City Council, there are conditions that must be met. The conditions for the restoration plan for the former chapel must be prepared and approved by the Heritage Preservation Commission within three years of adoption.

"I would just like to publicly thank the congregation and clergy of The Lady of Guadalupe for bringing this project forward and the volunteered time that they have done in making this possible for the city to take this action," David Heyward, the chair of the Heritage Preservation Commission, said.

Hayward said the options for preserving historic landmarks within the city are more limited than they have been.

"Community action is important to restore the character in our town," Hayward said.

Without much discussion, the Council voted unanimously to approve the first read through for the landmark overlay rezoning with expectations of establishing a timeline for completion.

New updated building codes were also proposed that would provide minor permit improvements among residential and industrial zones around Flagstaff.

Following the brief discussion of newly updated building codes, the owners of The Commons at Sawmill Apartments appeared in front of City Council as they appealed an approval of a conditional use permit for the property to be used as a student room and boarding facility.

The apartments were of much debate, as Vice Mayor Shimoni asked about the countless fines that have totaled to roughly $2 million dollars over 10 years. These fines have been placed upon The Commons, as it has violated the city's conditional use permit process since its conception.

A lawyer representing The Commons was at the meeting and asked for some leeway, because the owners of The Commons bought the property roughly three years ago but never knew they needed a conditional use permit.

Before granting leeway to the owners, City Council asked for extra conditions to be added onto their conditional use permit. These conditions were to add two years of free bus passes for students living at The Commons and a parking district in the area to help elevate the issue of cars parked on the side of the road.

Councilor Jim McCarthy voiced his support but also mentioned some concerns.

"With this type of arrangement, it sort of maximizes the number of people living there," McCarthy said. "There is a lot of pedestrian traffic, and I'm concerned that for the people trying to get to NAU, there isn't any sidewalks."

A motion to grant a new conditional use permit for The Commons passed unanimously.

"It would be nice if this neighborhood had a council that supported them," Mayor Coral Evans said.

Also up for discussion was a request for a resolution calling on Congress and Senate to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement.

Before the end of the City Council meeting, Councilor Regina Salas brought up a future agenda item request, which called for a possible resolution to Congress and Senate supporting the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

"USMCA is the strongest and most advanced trade agreement ever negotiated," Salas said. "This agreement will create more balance and reciprocal trade that supports high paying jobs for Americans and the North American economy."

The possible resolution that would be discussed in a later meeting was unanimously approved without questions or concerns.

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