“Discussion and possible action regarding an amendment to the General Plan future Land Use Map from Commerce/Office Park (COP) to Medium Density Residential (MDR) for a 15-acre property located at the northwest corner of Rancho Vistoso Blvd. and Vistoso Commerce Loop."It was six weeks before Halloween but the mayor was already wearing his disguise
During the discussions, Mayor Hiremath erroneously educated the members of the council that this was not an amendment, but, rather, an option that would add MDR to the current land use of COP.
Mayor Hiremath stated:
"I want to make it clear to this council that the General Plan Amendment request that's being asked today is NOT to put up residential but is to offer ANOTHER POTENTIAL USE...This gives the new council flexibility...It's going to be up to them whether they want to have that flexibility to choose residential…or to let it remain tech park...If the future council decides that they don't want to go residential, then too bad, it just has to remain tech park. However I think this council owes it to the next council to afford as much flexibility on all the available properties left."A blatant misrepresentation on the part of the mayor
The facts were revealed in a follow-up communication between an Oro Valley resident and the Planning and Zoning Administrator who described exactly what the council voted to approve that night:
“Town Council formally changed the General Plan designation to Medium Density Residential…By code and state law, a rezoning must be in compliance with the General Plan designation. So a presumption to favor approval of a residential rezoning has been established.”As you can see, this was not an option for a potential use. This was a land use designation change from COP to MDR. The only option for the incoming council to decide is what form of residential will be allowed on this property.
Mayor Hiremath was his usual disingenuous and deceitful self. He had no regard, as usual, for the People’s input into the General Plan and was likely communicating for the applicant and campaign donor, Rodger Ford of Anthem Equity Group, who donated a total of over $7,000 to the re-election campaigns of the incumbents and to YES on 454 in support of the Naranja Park Bond.
Councilmembers Rodman and Solomon were complicit
"I want to confirm what the mayor had said...if we approve this tonight, all we'd be doing is allowing the option for residential? It could still have the current zoning placed on it? It basically gives us more flexibility on this parcel?"Keep in mind that Solomon is a developer and fully knows what a General Plan amendment entails. Rodman is a former member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and also knows the ramifications of a General Plan Amendment. Yet neither of these individuals attempted to correct Hiremath’s explanation. Hiremath has been mayor for 8 years. He also knows how a General Plan Amendment works. None of them are ignorant on this issue which makes it highly suspect that this was done deliberately.
The Town Attorney and the Town Staff also never corrected the mayor. Perhaps this was because the mayor had already torn into the Planning Director and the Economic Director for recommending that the council deny the land use change.
Snider and Pina voted against it (the first time that Snider has voted against the mayor in her 8 years in office and the first time that Pina has voted against the mayor in her 2 years in office). Therefore, if Solomon and Rodman had been honest and not acquiesced to Hiremath’s deception, the amendment would not have passed. They (along with Hornat and Waters) knew exactly what this was but they went along with the mayor’s disguise.
Hiremath, Hornat, and Waters will soon be gone, but Solomon and Rodman have another two years left on their terms. Let’s hope that the new mayor and three new councilmembers who were elected to provide a new direction, will steer these two individuals in a direction that is pro-citizen rather than pro-developer.