Neighbors voice concerns about Grand Canyon University expansion

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX --- Grand Canyon University is welcoming a record number of students this fall, roughly 11,000.

School officials see the campus' rapid expansion along Missouri and Camelback, west of Interstate 17, as a major boost to West Phoenix.

Still, nearly 200 surrounding neighbors showed up at a zoning meeting Tuesday night, to complain about the school's rapid growth.

"You've taken away all the big old shade trees.  It's hotter now," one woman said.

Others complained about nails in their tires, construction debris, increasing traffic, and student behavior.

"I've seen kids throw beer cans  out of their cars on Missouri. Where's the security?  You don't live here, but I do, and we need better security," one neighbor demanded.

Several adjacent business and homeowners brought concerns about future campus growth.

"We need to know if you're thinking about purchasing us so we can be fair to ourselves and our renters," one man said.

Around 500 people have already been displaced, after the school bought apartment complexes and homes.

School officials say they will not buy-out any owner who wants to stay.  They maintain that their offers to homeowners, and generally lower-income renters, have been generous.

"We've done things like help with the last month's rent, find them a new place to live, and help with the first month's rent at the new place," the school's general counsel, Brian Roberts, said.

Roberts calls GCU's ongoing expansion a "win-win" for everyone.   He says the school now employs more than 3,000 people.

GCU's plans call for 25,000 students to be enrolled, in the next five years.