Thursday, April 27, 2017

Shannon Road-Manning Property: Neighborhood Meeting Summary

On Tuesday, April 25th, a Neighborhood Meeting was held regarding the proposal to change the Land Use of the Manning Property (76 acres at Shannon Road and Owl Vista Place) to allow the development of 108 homes to be clustered on 6,250 square foot lots. (Current zoning on that parcel is for large lots of 1 home per 144,000 square feet.) Approximately 40 neighbors were in attendance.

Information provided by the Town and the Applicant (WLB Group)
This is the 4th rezoning application on this property. All previous applications were withdrawn after vocal citizen opposition citing that the proposed developments were not compatible with surrounding homes and would also have detrimental impacts on the environment, water, schools, drainage, and traffic.

The property now has a new owner, known at this time only as “a local investment group.”

The current proposal calls for the clustering of homes on the northern half of the property (near Ironwood Ridge HS) while leaving the southern half of the property (adjacent to Owl Vista) as natural open space due to the considerable amount of ironwood trees on the southern portion of the property.

This parcel is surrounded by custom homes on 3.3 acre lots (and larger) west and south of the property. The plan calls for several hundred feet of buffer between the development and the homes to the south on Owl Vista. There will be a 300 foot buffer on the western edge of the property along Shannon Road. There will be some buffer on the northern and eastern edge of the property as well but the amount was not specified.

The entire Right-of-Way on Shannon is Town controlled. The ROW ends at Lambert Lane. The Town does not control that intersection. Additionally, all streets west of Shannon are part of Pima County and not Oro Valley.

Neighbors raised the following questions:
Are you allowed to come back at a later time and develop the southern portion of the property?
No, we cannot deviate from the plan once it’s approved by council. (Caveat: They can come back later and ask for a rezoning on the southern portion and develop it separately. There is nothing preventing them from doing this at a later time.)

Voters just approved the General Plan in November. Why are you already asking for a rezoning?

All property owners are allowed to request land use changes. It makes more sense to go through the standard amendment process rather than to change it during the General Plan process.

Why can’t we limit the number of rezoning applications to maybe 3 in 10 years? How many times do we have to do this before we get peace in our neighborhood?

That has to be taken up with the Arizona General Legislature.

There are ironwood trees on the northern portion as well. Why is it OK to build there and not in the southern portion which also has ironwood trees?

The Town identified the lower half of the property as being more dense with ironwood trees.

What kind of light can we expect from this development? Stadium lights from the school already block our night skies and the stars during football season.

It will be Dark Skies compliant. There will be no street lights. Schools do not have to abide by the Dark Skies ordinance.

If we file a formal protest, where does the boundary begin?

150 feet from the property boundary to be amended.

What fees does the Town collect on these developments?

There are small application fees and review fees. There is also a construction tax. Then there are larger fixed fees—impact fees, due to impacts on our police department and roads. These fees are applied to the Town’s infrastructure.

Why would the Town vote no and dismiss this project when it means that it won’t collect these fees?

No answer given.

Neighbors presented the following concerns and comments:
All this talk about the water shed and traffic flow is a distraction. This proposal will never fit the character of this area. Shannon is rural. There are 5 acre properties on the west side of Shannon. This proposal is no more scenic now than the proposal we saw in 2008.

They argue that this is appropriate development because they have high density housing to the east. That’s not our neighborhood.

We moved to R1-144 zoning because we wanted a desert environment. We’re concerned about the loss of the desert and the wildlife. Traffic is already a nightmare every morning with IRHS traffic. We don’t need to add another 108 homes with another 200 cars added to this daily traffic.

Prove a hardship to the property owner if they’re not allowed to rezone the land to their desire. The new owners accepted the property “as is.” They knew the land use. They knew the zoning.

This proposal calls for bulldozing like at Capella Estates. You want to bulldoze one half of 76 acres. I’d rather see the entire parcel developed with the current zoning of 1 home per 3.3 acres with no mass grading.

The 7.5 foot side setbacks on each home is nuts. Deed the remaining land on the parcel to the Town so that this owner can’t come back later and ask for another rezoning and more development on the lower half of this property.

Will they listen?
The applicant said, “We’re here to listen.” But will they? Listening is one thing. Acting accordingly is another. Past history tell us that they will do whatever they think they can get away with.

If there is any friction on council about this development, the applicant will compromise in order to get the votes he needs. If there is no friction on council, there will be no compromise despite the valid concerns of the nearby residents. In other words, “Rural Shannon” residents will need to get some of the council members on their side.

Councilmembers in Attendance
In attendance at this meeting were Councilmembers Joe Hornat, Bill Rodman, and Lou Waters. Also in attendance were Planning & Zoning commissioners, Don Cox, Tom Gribb, and Bob Swope. Keep in mind that all six of them heard all of the dissent, opposition, and concerns of the residents in attendance. They heard the anger and frustration. They heard the loud applause after each resident spoke. Whom will they represent when the time comes to vote -- the citizens whom they were elected to serve or the developers and builders who fund their election campaigns?

The Process
This meeting was the first informational meeting after which the applicant will file a formal submittal with the Town. After that, there will be at least one more Neighborhood Meeting followed by two Planning & Zoning hearings. The first P&Z meeting is informational and the second is when P&Z will decide whether to forward this on to the Council for a vote. If they forward it to the Council, there will be a Town Council meeting which includes a Public Hearing prior to the vote.

You can learn more about this project at

FYI ~ The Town recently sent the following mailer to residents living along the golf courses:

The Town of Oro Valley needs your help!

We have hired a consultant team to assess El Conquistador golf and related food and beverage operations. Your feedback is a critical part of the process.

We invite you to join us for a workshop where you’ll have an opportunity to provide your input and share your ideas with consultants Forrest Richardson, the National Golf Foundation, the WLB Group, and Town Staff.

Thursday, May 4, 2017
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Gaslight Music Hall of Oro Valley
13005 N Oracle Road, #165

A presentation and Q&A session will take place from 6:00 to 6:30 pm followed by the community input session and workshop from 6:30 to 8:30.

If you are unable to attend the session but would like to share your input or receive information, please contact:

We look forward to seeing you!


UPDATE:  This workshop is open to the public.  If you have any questions, please contact Constituent Services Coordinator, Jessica Hynd at

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Guest View- Susan Ross: Grandpa Golf is Dead

It’s a Double Bogey
The game of golf has seen its heyday. The United States has averaged a closing of 137 golf courses every year since 2011 reports the golf-industry researcher, Pellucid. (The Washington Post, Why American Fell out of Love with Golf, March 5, 2015).

Among those that closed in 2016 are courses that were designed by some of the luminaries in that field. The Falls outside of Houston, Texas was considered one of Jay Riviere’s finest designs, but in an overbuilt market, fewer and fewer golfers were willing to play the course. Windemere Golf and Country Club in Orlando, Florida, was designed by Ward Northrup. The greens and bunkers were recently renovated, but the club was down to just 80 members when it was closed. Plans call for the 155 acres to become lots for 95 single family homes. (Golf Advisor, 12 Golf Courses that Shuttered in 2016 We’ll Miss the Most, December 22, 2016).

Elk Ridge Golf Club in Atlanta, Michigan, was regarded as one of the top 20 public courses in Michigan. It is considered the best work of Michigan-based architect Jerry Matthews, who designed more courses in the state than anyone. Its fate is to become a private hunting preserve. Black Bear Golf Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was a design of Tom Jackson’s. Even after the club had undergone significant renovations, it too has closed. (Golf Advisor, December 2016).

Tallgrass Golf Course in Shoreham, New York, was designed by one of the hottest architects on the planet, Gil Hanse. Its 127 acres are due to become the home of 125,000 solar panels. (Golf Advisor, December 2016). On and on the stories go.

Golf retailers saw the writing on the wall
The giant Nike has bailed out of producing golf equipment. Nike has a huge marketing research department that does nothing but take the pulse of the sporting world. About every number coming out regarding the state of the sport is a negative with millennials—as in, young people, as in, the future of the game. Golf’s high cost to entry and association with an older group has resulted in young people’s sending it to the scrap heap. The decline is a reflection of an overall drop in interest in golf, particularly among the younger generations. The National Golf Foundation has stated that 200,000 players ages 35 and younger abandoned the game over the past year.

“The people sticking with the sport are playing fewer rounds than before, often opting for nine holes rather than 18. In total, U.S. golfers played 462 million rounds of golf last year. That was the fewest number since 1995. Golf has been a crummy business for a long time,” states Paul Swinand, an analyst at Morningstar, Inc. in Chicago. (Forbes, How a Declining Middle Class is Killing Golf, May 23, 2014)

Taylor-Made-Adidas Golf, the world’s largest producer of golf clubs and clothes, saw sales nosedive 28 percent last year. “A decline in the number of active players caused immense problems in the entire industry, and this hit us particularly hard,” stated Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer. The sporting goods giant has listed its slow-selling golf gear at deep discounts and postponed new launches. Hainer warned of even more “significant negative headwinds” for the game. The number of young people, age 18 to 30, playing the game has sagged nearly 35 percent in the last decade. (The Washington Post, Why America Fell Out of Love with Golf, March 5, 2015)

In 2006, Dick’s Sporting Goods bet big on golf, buying the specialty retailer Golf Galaxy for more than $200 million. Since then they have repeatedly acknowledged their bogey by shuttering stores and ending their experiment of staffing a PGA professional in the golf sections of more than 500 stores by firing all of them. “Golf from a participation standpoint, and how it translates to retail, is in a structural decline. And we don’t see that changing,” Dick’s chief executive Edward W. Stack stated. (The Washington Post, March 5, 2015)

School’s Out
Boys’ high school golf team participation peaked at 167,781 in 1998-99 and has been in steady decline since. At the collegiate level, over 27 schools have eliminated their golf program since 1995. In 2011, Arizona State University eliminated their PGA Golf Management Program.   (The Arizona Republic, ASU Ends Golf Management Program, May 3, 2011).

If you are labeling golf as an exercise, then you are only fooling yourself. Crawling into and out of a golf cart is not exercise. If you truly want an aerobic exercise, then you are going to have to get your heart rate up and do some serious body movement. Golf is time-consuming and not aerobic. Golf takes anywhere from three to five hours. Thirty minutes to an hour of aerobic exercise and you are time and money ahead. Not to mention the fact that your heart will love it.

The Pied Piper of Oro Valley
We have a mayor of Oro Valley who is the Pied Piper of Hamelin with six children who blindly follow him around (and we all know what happened to those children). As the citizens of Oro Valley, we are now subsidizing several golf courses that are operating so in the red that it could be called crimson.

We in Sun City continue to subsidize our own golf course, and now we are subsidizing the town’s boondoggles as well, and the ships are sinking. What is next for this group of rescuers: A bowling alley? A roller skating rink?

If I did not learn another thing in my two degrees in history, it is that things change. Lifestyles alter with the times. It is called progress. The horse and buggy gave way to the automobile. No more need for blacksmiths. No more need for buggy makers. Typewriter? Hello computers and printers.

Pull the plug
Grandpa Golf is terminal. You have him on a ventilator and hooked up to a feeding tube. An expensive physical therapist has been hired to turn him over every now and then. But then you have other people footing the bill for all of this. Nonetheless, Grandpa Golf is pleading for mercy to just let him die a natural death, but you are not listening. You cannot revive what is dead. Grandpa Golf is dead. May he rest in peace.

Susan Ross is a former college professor who has lived in Oro Valley for three years. She has a Master’s degree in History. She enjoys swimming. An avid reader, she reads dozens of non-fiction books per year.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Watchdog Report: By Mike Zinkin

February Community Center Financials
Late on Tuesday, April 18th, the Town finally published the financials for February…one day prior to the April 19th council meeting. Historically, the Town publishes these numbers one week prior to the council meeting.

The Community and Recreation Center Fund (CRC Fund) ended January $514,403 in the red. The good news is that the balance at the end of February was only $477,986 in the red. So although the fund remains in a negative balance, the difference from January to February was a positive $36,417. Of course it will take a lot of $36,417 gains to completely wipe out the $477,000 negative balance.

As an aside, the CRC Fund still owes the General Fund $120,000 from last year (when the council decided not to make the scheduled reimbursement payment). They will owe an additional $120,000 back to the General Fund before the end of this fiscal year (June 30th).

Dedicated sales tax still not covering the losses (currently at $1.7 million)
The Town's portion of the CRC (fitness, swimming, tennis, etc.) show a loss of $122,704 through February. This is acceptable as there was never an issue with the Community Center concept.

However, Troon's losses (golf, some tennis, food, beverage, and merchandise) continues to be unacceptable. Through February, Troon's losses total $1,731,948. The dedicated sales tax revenues through February are $1,452,073. This hardly covers the losses.

Additionally, Troon continues to be off on their forecasts. They forecasted $32,158 in golf losses in February, but actually lost $110,264 (a $78,106 miscalculation). Troon forecasted to make $12,354 in food and beverage (primarily the Overlook), but actually made only $5,533 (a $6,821 miscalculation). The total losses for food and beverage are now $90,501.

How is golf trending?
To hear Councilmember Steve Solomon tell it, “The expenditures for the community center, particularly this year, are down and our revenues are up. Now that’s the kind of trend that you want and it’s been trending that way for awhile now.” [April 19th council meeting.] Here’s what he didn’t say: In February 2016, golf lost $61,294. In February 2017, golf lost $110,264. This is a 55% increase in losses.

Although February has been the best month of the fiscal year which began on July 1st, the fact remains that without the golf and restaurant losses, Oro Valley could start putting money into ball fields and other improvements at Naranja Park without looking for a secondary property tax to fund it.

Bed Tax Revenues are under budget
The Bed Tax Fund is now estimated to come in under budget by $45,000. We are in the prime time of year for bed tax (hotel) revenues. Is it that the HSL property (Hilton) is not performing as forecasted, or is it that the revenues that were expected from golf, swimming, and tennis tournaments have not come to fruition?

Why is this important? On June 20, 2012, town staff requested that Council allow for a withdrawal of $1,169,000 from the General Fund Contingency to allow the Aquatic Center facility to function as intended for both competition and recreational purposes. If the needed elements were not added at that time, they couldn’t be added later without incurring significant costs and operational down-time.

Of this additional $1 million withdrawal, $524,000 was to be paid back from the Bed Tax Fund over a 15 year period. In other words, we need $35,000 per year from the Bed Tax Fund in order to meet the obligation to reimburse the General Fund Contingency.

Mike Zinkin has a Bachelor’s degree in History and Government from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from California State University, Northridge. He was a commissioned ensign in the United States Navy Reserve in 1969. He worked as an Air Traffic Controller for 30 years. He and his wife moved to Oro Valley after retiring in 1998. Mike served on the Oro Valley Development Review Board from 2005-2009, the Board of Adjustment from 2011-2012, and the Town Council from 2012-2016. During his time on council, he was named as one of 23 Leadership Fellows for the National League of Cities University, he was a member of the National League of Cities Steering Committee for Community and Economic Development, and a member of the Arizona League of Cities Budget and Economic Development Committee.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ever see this gal?

Want to know what it is?

Want to learn more?

Visit Oro Valley resident Alan Block's "Feather Tailed Stories".
Alan Block is an Oro Valley resident. He is also takes great pictures of wildlife, especially birds. He has a blog that displays his work. We've referenced in this posting.  Please do take the time to visit it. Then, relax and enjoy identifying some of the many birds you see in our community.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Guest View: Don Bristow ~ The Great “Bond” Caper (Part 3)

Last week on LOVE, “The Great ‘Bond’ Caper (Parts 1 and 2)” revealed the biased treatment of Call to Audience speakers based on whether their presentation concurred or not with the Council’s wishes. Unfortunately, censoring the first speaker (Ms. Stratman) while taking no action against the second speaker (Mr. Baker) were not the only biased acts of the council that evening.

As a preamble to Call to Audience, Mayor Hiremath read the following statement:
“At this time, any member of the public is allowed to address the Mayor and Town Council on any issue not listed on today’s agenda. Pursuant to the Arizona Open Meeting Law, individual Council Members may ask Town Staff to review the matter, ask that the matter be placed on a future agenda, or respond to criticism made by speakers. However, the Mayor and Council may not discuss or take legal action on matters raised during Call to Audience. In order to speak during Call to Audience please specify what you wish to discuss when completing the blue speaker card.”

As noted in last week’s LOVE article, Attorney Gary Verburg reiterated the above protocol during the meeting.

Protocol Schmotocol
Therefore, at that point in the meeting, the mayor, council, and town staff had TWICE heard the protocol that they must follow regarding a Call to Audience speaker. In fact, they are reminded of this protocol at every meeting. Despite this, Councilmember Solomon made the following comment upon completion of the first speaker’s presentation:

Solomon: “Mr. Mayor, there was an implication [in Ms. Stratman’s speech] that Oro Valley has a problem with their budget somehow…I’d like to ask our financial director [Stacey Lemos] to give us a brief summary of whether we are in trouble financially or not…”

Solomon initiated a financial discussion with Stacey Lemos with the intent of countering Ms. Stratman’s comments. Neither Attorney Verburg nor any councilmember objected to Solomon’s action which was out-of-order and a violation of Arizona Open Meeting Law.

Later, after the discussion on Regular Agenda Item 2 (the bond issue) had ended, Mayor Hiremath also responded to Ms. Stratman’s earlier golf course comments in his typical manner of lecturing and criticizing. As we’ve witnessed many times, anyone who questions or disagrees with the mayor and council is painted as negative and misinformed.

The fact that he delayed his lecture until after the bond issue had been discussed still did not make it allowable. He, too, violated Arizona Open Meeting Law without anyone objecting.

Recap: It’s a Matter of Ethics
  • Point of Order called against Ms. Stratman for speaking on the bond issue.
  • No Point of Order called against Mr. Baker for speaking on the bond issue.
  • No Point of Order called against Councilmember Solomon for discussing an issue brought up during the Call to Audience.
  • No Point of Order called against Mayor Hiremath for discussing an issue brought up during the Call to Audience.

With no member of Council or Attorney Verburg raising a Point of Order on any of the above prohibited actions, it calls their ethics into question.

Anyone interested in hearing all of the Mayor’s comments can go to the Town’s website and view the video of the April 5, 2017 Town Council Meeting.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Editorial ~ Wednesday, April 19th Town Council Meeting --The $28 million dollar question

REMINDER: Wednesday, April 19th, 6:00 PM, Town Council Meeting. Item #1: Public Comment and possible action from Town Council regarding the community request for funding and construction of additional sport fields and related improvements for Naranja Park.

The requested funding is for a $17 million General Obligation Bond to be paid back with a secondary property tax (in addition to your Pima County property tax). This tax will last for 20 years for a total repayment of $28 million dollars.

This will be the first opportunity for public input for this item. The second opportunity for public input will be at the May 3, 2017 council meeting. The council will then vote whether to put this item on the November ballot for voter approval/disapproval.

Background Information
At the February 15, 2017 Town Council meeting, the Town received a request by some members of the community (including youth sports parents, athletes, and Oro Valley user groups) to construct additional sports fields at Naranja Park. Council directed staff to return at a future meeting with a proposal and a plan to finance it. This proposal was presented at the April 5th council meeting. Council asked that it be brought back to the April 19th council meeting for public comment.

Included in the Proposal
  • 3 lit multi-sport fields (oversized)
  • Baseball/softball complex including 4 fields, batting cages, and a concession building with restrooms
  • Playground
  • Ramada shade structures
  • Pedestrian walkways
  • Paved parking spaces (300 additional)

Taxpayers shouldn’t be punished for the “Sins of the Council”
The issue isn’t the ball fields, it’s the proposed funding. The Town wouldn’t need to issue a bond and secondary property tax for ball fields if the Town Council hadn’t made the rushed and foolish decision to purchase the El Con Community Center and Golf Courses in 2014. This enterprise has been under-performing for the entire two years that it’s been operating, thus bleeding the town of millions of dollars per year…money that could have been used to fund the Naranja Park ball fields instead without necessitating a secondary property tax.

Speak now or forever pay a property tax
Attend the Council Meeting and submit a Blue Card (available on the back table) to speak about Item #1. You can expect that many supporters will be in attendance and will speak. Those who oppose a secondary property tax to finance these ball fields need to make their voices heard as well.

If you are unable to attend, please e-mail the council members and send a copy of your e-mail to Town Clerk Michael Standish ( and request that your letter be included in the Council Packet for the April 19th or May 3rd council meeting. The mayor and council member e-mails are as follows:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mark your calendars. Shannon Road – Manning Property General Plan Amendment and Rezoning Application

Proposed General Plan Amendment and Rezoning for an approximately 78-acre property east of Shannon Road immediately south of Ironwood Ridge High School.

Current Land Use Designation
Rural low density residential 3.3 acre lots (144,000 square feet). Maximum one dwelling per 3.3 acres (23 homes total) with substantial setbacks between individual homes in order to maintain a rural character and retain the natural environment.

Proposed Land Use Designation
Low density residential-2. Maximum 1 dwelling per half acre (89 homes total). Includes “retention of a rural open character…minimum of [natural desert] disturbance with building envelopes on individual lots.”

Don’t let this description fool you into believing that the end result will be low density half-acre lots with minimal loss of natural vegetation. The devil is in the proposed rezoning details below.

Current Zoning
Large lot residential R1-144. (Equates to 144,000 square foot minimum lot size). Allows agricultural uses and promotes open space.

Proposed Zoning ~ The Devil is in the Details
Small lot clustered homes. Residential R1-7. (Equates to 7,000 square foot minimum lot size). Medium-high-density detached single-family residential development. This proposal also includes changing the allowed maximum building height from 18 feet to 25 feet, which will allow for the building of 2-story homes. It also allows side setbacks in between the homes of only 15 feet (7.5 feet per home).

Aerial View Of Proposed Site
Why This and Why Now?
What would make a developer think that they can get approval to build small cluster residential homes on 7,000 square foot lots in an established neighborhood of $500,000 to $800,000 homes on 3.3 acre rural residential lots? The answer is evident by the timing of the application. The pre-application was submitted in January 2017, coincidentally timed to be heard by our new 7-member pro-development council.

Keep in mind that this is not a small change. If approved, this change will completely alter the rural character of the Shannon Road neighborhood thereby lowering the property values of the existing surrounding homes.

Not My Neighborhood…Or is it?
If you’re thinking, “I don’t live on Shannon Road so I don’t need to concern myself with this,” think again. Every time a land use or rezoning change is approved in one neighborhood, it sets the stage for a similar land use/rezoning change in the surrounding neighborhoods. The developer’s excuse is always…”this proposal with 7,000 square foot lots and 2-story homes with mass grading is in keeping with the neighborhood immediately to the north (south, east, or west).”

We urge you to attend the Neighborhood Meeting on April 25th and make YOUR VOICE heard.

More information is available on the town website: CLICK HERE