“PRESERVE THE CHARACTER OF ORO VALLEY”
A key component of Planning is how growth should be managed to preserve the character of the area. This concept was important to Town residents in 2003 and is equally important to residents today.
The previous General Plan, Focus 2020, was ratified with a focus on orderly growth, low density development and preservation of the Sonoran Desert. It remained in effect until Your Voice, Our Future (YVOF) was ratified in November 2016. This new plan offered greater flexibility for development.
Even though Focus 2020 called for low density development, the Hiremath Council approved numerous Plan Amendments and Rezonings for higher density residential and apartment projects throughout their first and second terms (2010 to 2018). When Councilmembers Solomon, Rodman and Pina were elected in 2016, unanimous votes for development became commonplace. Within 18 months, the developer friendly council voted unanimously for a Rezoning, three concurrent General Plan Amendments/ Rezonings and an extension of the Town boundaries for future annexation of State Land. By March 18, 2018, there were 18 active development projects proposing 1,893 homes and an unknown quantity of apartments and senior living units. Campaign Finance Reports revealed major funding from Developers and Builders to all members of this Hiremath Council.
These development decisions, coupled with the golf course purchase, were a major factor in the four incumbents (Mayor Hiremath and Councilmembers Hornat, Snider and Waters) losing their seats in 2018.
When Mayor Winfield and the three new Councilmembers were seated in November 2018, they took a different approach to development. While all property owners have the right to file applications for changes, it is key that Council review them and work to ensure housing density is at a reasonable level – especially here in the Sonoran desert. The Winfield Council looks to retain Oro Valley’s vision of scenic beauty and small-town appeal while supporting smart growth.
IMPORTANT NOTE – The projects under construction in 2020 (Alterra and Tranquilo communities in Big Wash, the Shannon 80 development, the Rancho Vistoso & Vistoso Highlands project and Saguaros Viejos) were all unanimously approved by the Hiremath Council between November 2016 and April 2018.
COVID-19 IMPACT ON DEVELOPMENT
The Town requires all General Plan Amendment and Rezoning applicants to engage in community outreach at the front end of the process to hear public comments and questions.
Typically, an in-person neighborhood meeting is held prior to formal submittal of a General Plan Amendment and/or rezoning application. However, the Zoning Code enables the unelected Planning and Zoning Administrator to approve alternative methods of public outreach when warranted. With the ongoing COVID-19 social distancing requirements, the Town modified the standard Neighborhood meeting format and crafted alternative methods (such as videos and Zoom meetings) to address the timing requirements. In-person Neighborhood Meetings will be held later this year, safety permitting.
2020 PROPOSED GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENTS
Kai-Capri – 1st and Tangerine
Focus 2020 – The General Plan that focused on low-density development
In 2003, Oro Valley voters rejected a previous general plan revision 60% to 40%. The Plan was defeated because too many changes were made by the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council AFTER the volunteer committees had completed their efforts. The Plan no longer reflected the work of the people.
A Committee was formed to revise the failed Plan and in 2005, Oro Valley voters ratified the Focus 2020 General Plan. You can find the complete Focus 2020 Plan here. (I THINK YOU ALREADY CORRECTED THIS OLD LINK)
The Land Use element of Focus 2020 stated: “The Oro Valley Planning Area will continue to project a residential/resort character where the living environment for residents and visitors is emphasized. Orderly growth that focuses primarily on low-density development is especially important to the community, as is development that is sensitive to and compatible with the Sonoran Desert environment.”
The Plan further noted that zoning entitlements were already in place within the Town’s “planning area” but stated that “…only certain areas have potential for change through the Town’s development review and approval process.”