Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Saga Of Lot 6: A Hill, Seven Stories High!


“The lot was difficult to build on in 2004,”
Council member Rodman noted. 2004 was the year Oro Valley resident Susan Richards paid $149,000 for it. Richards, who has been trying to sell the property for the past five years, was before Town Council in October, seeking a grading and fill variance.

The lot in question is Oro Valley Estates, lot 6 (945 W Valle Del Oro). Most of the homes there were built some years back. Almost all required grading and fill.  Lot 6 is a bit different. It is a hill, seven stories high!

The scenario was typical... Petitioner wants variance... Neighbors say “no”
Richards has been told by an architect that one can’t build a reasonably sized home on the property that meets Oro Valley's  allowable grading standard. A reasonably sized home requires a 16 foot cut (12 foot fills) twice the town code limit . A grading variance will give some assurance to a potential buyer that they could put a reasonably sized home on the land.

The neighbors, even one whose house sits precipitously on top of the hill, foundation eroding, object.
Town staff planner Hayes presented the case. The lot was defined in 1959 for a home. A variance is needed to allow for that.

Town Staff sees a win-win
Town professional engineer Keesler noted that a grading variance was a “win win” for everyone. The precipitously perched house owner could work with whoever eventually tries to build on the property to abate their foundation erosion issue; because any remediation they would need to do would require the cooperation of the lot 6 owner.

Councilmember Solomon, a contractor, assured all that a variance could be built that would stabilize the land. He assured all that terracing walls would be a cost effective solution. And, all agree that there will be no view blocking issue because the house would be at the base of the hill.

Council agrees
By unanimous vote, Council approved the grading exception, with the condition that no individual retaining wall be greater than 8 feet in height.

The next day: The yellow public hearing sign came down on lot 6. The “For Sale” sign went up.

The land is listed for $94,900,
This is a veritable bargain for land in Oro Valley Estates. But is it?

The catch?
The home will take a long time to build, more town approvals and variances will be needed and all of this will add to the already heavy cost to build. In the end will be a home with a really small back yard... a home that won’t see the sun until the afternoon.

Perhaps, not such a good deal after all!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Mayor and Vice Mayor Recall Effort Underway

Note: A previous version of this posting stated that Ed Slentz pulled recall petitions for Mayor Winfield and Vice-mayor Barrett. According to Slentz, "That is absolutely and categorically false, untrue and a lie. I have not initiated any such action" (Source: email from Ed Slentz) This is an inadvertent error on our part. Subject to check with town records, we believe that the individual is Thomas Plantz.
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  Council Member Steve Solomon Attends Kickoff Meeting
This past Friday night, some Oro Valley residents met in the Sunset Room of the Community Center to prepare for an attempted recall of Mayor Winfield and Vice Mayor Barrett. Oro Valley Council Member Steve Solomon was standing in the back of the room. He is seen in the right in the picture we have posted. The meeting discussed petition 'Rules for Signing' and a 'Plan of Action'.

Solomon At Recall Meeting
Sunset Room
Community Center
Friday, November 8, 2019


Petition signature solicitation has started
Saturday, petition circulators set up a tent in the dirt lot on the left entering the Community Center. Oro Valley Thrives head Jen LeFevre and Oro Valley resident Mary Murphy were soliciting signatures Sunday. Oro Valley Thrives is comprised of members of the Town of Oro Valley Golf community. Circulators have been seen in other locations since then.

The issue:
Winfield and Barrett's support PAYg for Golf and Community Center Improvements

Lefevre was enthusiastic when, several weeks ago, the council voted to operate two golf courses. Her enthusiasm can be viewed in the clip of the KVOA Video that follows.

She is no longer enthusiastic because last week Mayor Winfield and Council Member Barrett said that they favor “pay as you go” (“PAYg”) financing for golf course improvements. They support this alternative over financing the improvements by issuing bonds or by borrowing from the town's general fund. The general fund is the fund that supports town operations. She fears that this will defer proposed improvements.


Other reasons given for a recall:
•  The council is looking both internally and externally for a police chief. They should select an internal candidate only
• Barrett is not always civil with other council members
• The degrading of the police department
• Winfield and Barrett have shown themselves to be disingenuous and untrustworthy

May 2020 is the election target date
The petition circulators are telling people that May 2020 is the election target date if the petitions are turned in. In order for this to happen, the group will have to submit 3,952 (for Mayor) and 3,668 (for council) validated Oro Valley resident registered voter signatures.
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Monday, November 11, 2019

Winfield To LOVE: Why 36-Holes Was The Right Decision

When it became apparent
“After months of public input, legal counsel, and Town Manager Mary Jacobs’ financial analysis for the various options, it became increasingly apparent to me that the Town could best be served by keeping the 36 holes.” Mayor Joe Winfield said this during his “State Of The Town” address in September.

Last week, we asked the Mayor why he felt this was the best solution. He gave us 5 reasons.

1. There is potential for growth in corporate memberships
“One of the things I believe is that the courses have not been marketed aggressively; and this is something I have heard from the time I was campaigning. I think one constant theme [that some spoke to him about| was that [the courses] were being under-marketed and managed to fail. I’m hoping that we can change that paradigm and be more aggressive at marketing.” By doing that “I believe that there is an opportunity to increase membership by increasing corporate memberships.”

Town of Oro Valley Golf has one corporate member. “I’d like to see 35 new corporate memberships and 10,000 more rounds.”

2. Town Of Oro Valley Golf subsidy levels have been decreasing
According to Mayor Winfield, Town of Oro Valley Golf losses have been slowly decreasing. He sees a trend. They have been “downtrending” over a recent three month period.

3. There was not ‘enough’ difference in subsidy between 18 and 36 holes
Winfield gave significant weight to the town manager’s golf financial projections. “If you looked at the golf options between 36 holes and 18 her financial analysis showed those very similar.” He noted that the 18 holes option did require less subsidy.

4. There are potential purchase contract challenges to any change
According to Winfield: “Given the executive sessions we had with legal team and knowing some of the challenges the town could face legally, that certainly factored in.” The Mayor declined to elaborate because the discussions were held in executive sessions. LOVE and others have reported that the purchase agreement has many clauses that favor the seller. One, for example, gives the seller unlimited veto power over the selection of course management firm.

5. Public support favor keeping the courses
“The preponderance of community input at these various public hearings and emails I received were in favor of golf.”
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Friday, November 8, 2019

Bits and Pieces

LaCanada, Moore Roundabout Completed Soon
The Roundabout at Moore and LaCanada is scheduled to be competed before Thanksgiving, providing relief to those who travel in the area. The town is providing education on it. Watch the KGUN9 report here.

We saw a car trying to take a left turn into the roundabout on Northern Ave. This is almost a physically impossible thing to do. All you really need to know is that you enter right when it is safe to do so.

Pima County Sheriff caught shoplifting
35 year old Ryan Fuller, a now suspended Pima County Sheriff, was arrested for shophlifting at WalMart. Read the Daily Star report here.

Folk Concert Tomorrow
There is a folk concert at Steam Pump Ranch tomorrow. It starts at 10:30.  Learn more about the SAACA concert series here.

“Special note: Ride your bike or walk to the Heirloom Farmers Market via the shared use path on a Second Saturday at Steam Pump Ranch and receive $1 coupon to use at Steam Pump Ranch Artisan and Commerce Corral vendors (offer limited to the first 20). Pick up your coupon at the Parks and Recreation booth.” (Source: Town of Oro Valley Media Relations)

Thursday, November 7, 2019

New Liaison Assignments Delayed To January 1, 2020

Implementation delayed
Last night, the Oro Valley Town Council voted 4-3 to make the new liaison council assignments effective January 1, 2020.  Mayor Winfield had proposed that these assignments be effective immediately.  Council Member Jones-Ivey voted with Council Members Pina, Rodman and Solomon to delay the assignments.

Jones-Ivey confused
Jones-Ivey was confused throughout the 45 minute discussion of this motion. At one point, Council reconsidered the vote so that she could make sure she understood for what she was voting.

Not the first time
This is the second time Joyce-Ivey cast a critical vote in agreement with the minority members of council. The other was her insistence that bonding for golf course improvements be considered among the financial alternatives for financing course and community center improvements.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Council To Discuss New Liaison Assignments

This second try should do it
The Oro Valley Town Council will consider changing board and commission liaison assignments at tonight's council meeting.

As previously reported, Council Members Pina, Rodman and Solomon "raked Winfield over the coals" at the October 16 town council meeting for recommending these changes.

The measure deadlocked 3-3 in October. Council Member Joyce-Ivey was not at the meeting to vote.

The proposed assignments
  • Amphitheater School District: Jones-Ivey
  • Board of Adjustment: Solomon
  • Budget and Finance Commission: Nicolson
  • Historic Preservation Commission: Solomon
  • Parks and Recreation Advisory Board: Jones-Ivey
  • Planning and Zoning Commission: Barrett
  • Stormwater Utility Commission: Rodman
  • Water Utility Commission: PiƱa
  • Other Relationships: Winfield
    • Legislative District:
    • Visit Tucson
    • Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce
    • Pima Association of Governments
    • Regional Transportation Authority
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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Meet the Rattlesnake Queen

Meet the Rattlesnake Queen
We ran this posting five years ago. It’s so good, we thought we’d run it for those who missed it.

Here's a "must see video" for you.  Filmed circa 1934, it is of Catherine Reidy, posted by her son Jim.  Catherine did her rattlesnake hunting north of Tucson which, we are guessing could have been somewhere in today's Oro Valley.  Apparently, she had quite a business!

Gives one a sense of what Oro Valley was like before it became Oro Valley.
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