Rural-Warner controversy: Long-vacant property up for new scrutiny; neighbors and developer disagree over rights

A bulldozer clears the way for replacement of Tempe’s water lines along Warner Road./Joyce Coronel

By Joyce Coronel | Wrangler News

A vacant lot at the northwest corner of Rural and Warner roads stands at the center of a long- swirling controversy that has bitterly divided a South Tempe neighborhood. When a chain link fence popped up days ago along much of the lot’s perimeter, and a large trailer and neatly stacked pile of pipes appeared, area residents began to wonder: Are those four dusty acres about to be developed?

They may have missed the small orange sign that sprouted alongside the trailer: The city of Tempe, it turns out, will be working on some water lines in the area.

However, that seems to be only part of the story.

Steve Tseffos, one of the owners of the parcel, said he and his partner, Tally Ho Farms resident Bill Fautsch, have leased a portion of the 3.7-acre parcel to a company doing the construction work for the city, but they say the property also is “under contract.”

So what exactly does that mean?

“That’s as much as we actually want to say right now but you can pretty much deduce when somebody says it’s under contract that somebody’s trying to do something with it,” Tseffos said.

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