Mayor Hiremath quote from the 12/17/14 Town Council meeting explaining why they needed to purchase the golf courses:
“Lastly, and not least, the overriding factor to me personally, it’s controlling the destiny of 330 acres in the middle of MY TOWN where I have residents who are going to be adversely affected by it.”He was referring to the fact that if someone else purchased the El Con golf property, they could convert the golf courses into single-family residential homes, thereby destroying the golf course views of residents who paid for those views. The mayor was clear that he wanted to protect the homes along the golf courses from development that would be incompatible in their backyards.
Councilmember Solomon quote from the 7/12/17 Golf Courses Study Session when they were discussing the possibility of closing one or all of the golf courses:
“We have to be very sensitive to what happens to the areas that we no longer use as golf courses, because you’ve got homes backing up to these areas. They bought to be on a golf course. We can’t just go off and put in new residential development or commercial development. I mean that’s just not acceptable…We have an obligation to maintain, at minimum, an open natural desert setting for those homes.”An obligation?
I then challenged them to explain their rationale. “If you vote to approve this rezoning, you’re going to have to explain how you have an obligation to protect the man-made views of one group of residents, yet you have no obligation to protect the unspoiled natural desert views of another group of residents.”
Mayor Hiremath’s response
“So to respectfully answer one of the speakers who asked me to explain the difference between this property and the acquisition of the 320 acres. We had the opportunity to purchase it and on those acreages there were single family entitlements, so if the Town had not purchased it, a development would occur and the Town of Oro Valley would have no recourse in stopping them because single family entitlements were already entitled.
With THIS particular property, [Saguaros Viejos] the Town does not have the opportunity to buy it. Private development owns it and therein lies the difference. So in one instance we did have the capacity to jump in and were offered the opportunity to buy it to preserve those views and that’s the distinction.”
Part 2, my rebuttal to the mayor, will be published on Friday.