Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Can The Citizens Of Oro Valley Save The DRB? It Won't Be Easy!

Below is what an Oro Valley neighbor has to say about the potential demise of the DRB.

We already posted Mayor Hiremath's position:

Mayor Satish Hiremath hopes the council axes the review board.

Now, if you want to have your input heard, all you need to do is call Mary Davis at Oro Valley and make an appointment to attend one of the July daytime meetings.

One might think it might be easier to make a doctor's appointment.

Art
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Oro Valley May AX Development Panel

The town of Oro Valley may do away with the citizen's panel that reviews development in our town. Just like the new town council eliminated the money to help the elderly and poor children who use the food bank and the historic preservation money which may jeopardize a matching federal grant, they want to remove this useful group of 7 citizens. This panel checks zoning, architecture standards, and makes sure new developments meet the expectations of it's citizens. The out-of-town developers want to turn our beautiful town into "Any Town, USA" and Oracle Road into "Speedway." Don't believe this is to streamline business in Oro Valley. This is developer pushed. Most towns and cities have these types of Review Boards. The town has set three meetings to discuss the elimination of the Developmental Review panel.

The meetings were set during July when most OV citizens leave town for the summer. You even have to call to make a reservation to attend. Please call Mary Davis at 229-4712 and tell her you plan to attend one of the following meetings.

Where: All meetings will be held at the Town Hall 11000 N. La Canada Drive

Dates/Times: Monday, July 19th 10:00 AM
Thursday, July 22 1:30 PM
Friday, July 23 1:00 PM

Please try to attend one of the these important meetings and let your voice be heard. Tell them we want to keep the review panel. We want our review panel to have some clout, not just a provider of information that can be ignored by the council and/or developers.

19 comments:

Jay D said...

Contrary to the Oro Valley neighbor's comments, I do not believe that the "potential demise of the DRB" is "developer pushed." I am reposting my comments from a previous thread, because I believe it's important that blog readers know the facts regarding the DRB discussion and don't just jump to conclusions based on this thread or what "an Oro Valley neighbor has to say."

I have done a little research regarding the council's actions related to the DRB. Contrary to what appears to be popular opinion on this blog, the current council and mayor did not initiate the DRB discussions. It's easy enough to read the Town Council minutes online to discover the facts. The following (Item 5) is on the April 7 Town Council Meeting Minutes:

MOTION: A motion was made by Councilmember Gillaspie and seconded by Vice Mayor Garner to direct staff to move forward using Options A, B, C and D as proposed and that staff conduct public meetings with Option C offered as the preferred solution and develop an action and implementation plan with the consolidated findings and return to Council by the first meeting in September (not precluding any study sessions).

Option A
This option retains all current processes with no changes.

Option B
The powers and duties of the DRB would be amended to focus solely on the review of architecture submittals. The Development Review Board would be renamed to Design Review Board. Staff would assume all other recommendation & approval responsibilities formerly reviewed by DRB. Final approvals for these submittals remain with Town Council.

Option C
Staff would assume all recommendation & approval responsibilities, including architecture, that were formerly reviewed by DRB. The Town Council would disband the Development Review Board. Final approvals for these submittals remain with Town Council.

This option may reduce overall review and approval process time by 4-6 weeks for particular types of submittals.

Option D
Staff would assume all development recommendations & approval responsibilities allowed by State statute, including development plans, preliminary plats, landscape plans, parking analysis, architecture, signage, grading exceptions, communications facilities, and time extensions. The Town Council would disband the Development Review Board.

This option may reduce overall review and approval process time by 4-11 weeks for particular types of submittals.

MOTION carried, 6-0.

The above describes Gillaspie and Garner's motion and the 6-0 vote to approve Option C and disband the DRB!!!

Public comments regarding the DRB discussion were made by several people including: Bill Adler, an Oro Valley resident, commented that most of the decisions made by DRB members were being made intuitively based upon feelings and not facts. He stated that determinations should be made based on adopted regulations and policies and until that is done, all Boards should be suspended with decisions made by staff rather than by citizens.

Palomino said...

Regardless of who made the motion, who seconded the motion, or whether this is "developer pushed" or not, the fact remains that they are holding these meetings in JULY when half the town has left town for the summer, and they're holding ALL of the meetings at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. when the working class (who do NOT leave town for the summer) ARE WORKING and unable to attend any of these meetings.

artmarth said...

Jay D--- I avoided responding to previous comment from the earlier posting, that you saw fit to repeat here, so this time I will respond.

Sometimes individuals on the council think ahead. That was the case with the motion you keep referencing that was made by Barry & seconded by Bill.

For your benefit and any others that may question the motive behind that motion, allow me to explain.

The concern on the part of Barry & Bill was that the previous council under the "leadership" of Loomis may well have voted then and there to destroy the volunteer DRB committee.

Rather than chance that, the strategic move was to bide time in the hope that a new council would do the right thing.

As we know, Mike Zinkin did not get elected. Dr. Hiremath did, whose desire is to eliminate the DRB.

The strategy did not work out, but you can be sure Barry & Bill had the right intentions.

Palomino points out what a mockery these potential meetings are, although it appears this is already a "done deal."

Jay D said...

Art, I "saw fit" to repost my comments because you initiated another DRB thread. It's not uncommon for the blog readers to respond to posts without accurate information, which just perpetuates inaccuracies.

You say "...the strategic move was to bide time in the hope that a new council would do the right thing." Is this something that Garner and Gillaspie told you?

I find this confusing, because the council discussed three options, including Option A, which "...retains all current processes with no changes." No action was planned for that April 7 meeting, when the motion was made. If Garner and Gillaspie wanted to just bide time, they could have suggested that Option A was the preferred plan,to save the DRB, not Option C as they did.

artmarth said...

Jay D-- Rather than ask me, why not ask Bill and/or Barry what they want as far as DRB.

They're your representatives. I'm sure they'll be happy to give you their views.

Then you can present them here!

Jay D said...

Art, I did present Gillaspie and Garner's views by posting their motion at the Town Council meeting. You stated that their move was to "bide time" until the new council took office. I was asking you how you knew this. Is this your opinion? Is this what they told you? These are reasonable questions and should not result in your suggestion to me to go ask those individuals.

In order for this blog to have any credence, posters should be able to support comments. I used information taken from the Town minutes to respond to your thread. I only ask you to support your comments.

artmarth said...

Jay--Rather than continuing this dialog with you, I'll let Barry's words as quoted in the Az Star speak for its self.


"The review board provides an extra level of scrutiny for developers that doesn't exist in other local municipalities," said Town Councilman Barry Gillaspie, a former principal planner for Pima. County.

Jay D said...

Art, I really would not continue this conversation with you if you would answer my question regarding your comment, "...the strategic move was to bide time in the hope that a new council would do the right thing." Did Garner or Gillaspie tell you this? Is this your assumption?

This comment you left, "The review board provides an extra level of scrutiny for developers that doesn't exist in other local municipalities," said Town Councilman Barry Gillaspie, a former principal planner for Pima County, only describes a purpose of the DRB. In no way does it tell us what Gillaspie's position is on the DRB. This does not contradict his Motion to consider eliminating the DRB.

All I ask, like you do of your other posters, is that you answer my original question. Then I am more than happy to move on!

OV Objective Thinker said...

There is very little that the DRB does that cannot be done equally well or better by staff and or by incorporating some of the "scrutiny" into the P&Z Commission.Parking and landscape review readily come to mind.

The objectivity of the DRB has been questionable for many years. I am reminded of a past DRB member who addressed an applicant with a remark similiar to, "My 4 year old grand daughter has better taste than you.",when discussing color choices. That business went on to produce sales tax revenue for Marana. While this is an isolated and dated instance there were many more recent problems in the past three or four years.

Zev Cywan said...

OVOT et al - the solution as I see it is not to disband the DRB but rather to hone it in such fashion as to make it more efficient and perhaps more accountable. All of the human weaknesses that might enter the purview of the DRB are most certainly as prevalent or more so within the various and ever changing Councils as well as Staff. Tighten the qualifications of those who serve, require more expertise in related elements, and demand that the DRB follow the guidelines of the General Plan as well as the dictates of the applicable codes, and SEE TO IT THAT THEY ARE 'TOWN EDUCATED' RELATIVE TO THEIR POSITIONS. In addition, make certain that the individuals that serve have the personality types that can work with a wide spectrum of other personality types. Are Council and/or Staff more capable of handling the facets of this board than those merely in the public sector? I really don't think so! It seems as if they have their hands full now with just the workload they currently have. So how will they take on more? More Staff? That would entail a bigger budget. Right now the Boards come free of charge. Is the eventual intent to have the the Mayoral and Council positions 'paid professionals' as is now being considered in Tucson? Taking on more responsibilities now and down the road can only seemingly lead to more Staff and/or 'professional' governance. Hmmm......

I find it distressing that Town 'management'/governance might chip away at the ideals of citizen participation and do so in such dismissive manner as I have most recently read into certain statements made and published.

Much has been made about getting this Town 'more together'; this is not the way to do it!

I also am getting tired of hearing that we are not 'business friendly' because we have certain rules and regs, certain processes, and that these things 'get in the way' of doing business. We, the Town, are not responsible for the poor performance(s) of a bunch of businesses which are constantly buried in an 'oh woe is me' crying towel. I can pinpoint many businesses who are suffering here and will continue to do so, not because of our 'conditions', but because of their own weaknesses - location, unreadable signs do to unreadable fonts, restaurants with greeters and servers dressed in 'grunge', poor after market service, etc.

There are the complainers and the doers; which do you prefer?

Victorian Cowgirl said...

Jay D,

So Art makes a statement and now you're insisting on the facts to back it up. You said...

"Is this your opinion? Is this what they told you? These are reasonable questions...In order for this blog to have any credence, posters should be able to support comments."

So let me take you back to when your buddy Roger stated that Zinkin tried to get ALL the same endorsements that Hiremath got, but when I asked Roger to NAME all of those endorsements (a reasonable question) he refused. He said that he...

"Refused to...provide VC the proof, facts, truth etc, etc, etc. She only sees and hears her view. i can sit at the computer and provide ALL she wants but what is the point?"

Now why didn't you go after ROGER when he made a statement that he refused to support? Why didn't you say, "In order for this blog to have any credence, posters should be able to support comments."

So according to you, Roger's comments have no credence. Thank you for noticing. We finally agree on something.

You know, Jay D, it seems that you are always negative, constantly questioning Art, and now you're bringing up "old news" from the April 7th council meeting.

To quote you from an earlier posting...

"There is a definite pattern in your responses that tends to be negative, constantly questionning people, bringing up old news."

So if all of that is wrong, why are YOU doing it? Just another one of the Good Old Boys tactics...one set of rules for them, another set of rules for everyone else.

Victorian Cowgirl said...

Zev is correct about why businesses succeed or fail, and I will put it another way...

A business does not fail because town regulations got in the way. They fail because they can't get out of THEIR OWN way.

They choose to hire incompetent staff, they choose to have inconvenient business hours, they choose the poor location, they choose not to turn on the A/C, etc. Then they choose not to accept any responsibility for their bad business decisions, and instead they convince themselves that the real reason they have no customers is because they can't light their sign at 3 AM.

Jay D said...

VC, I really hate to respond to you, but I must...I don't know who Roger is and he certainly isn't my "buddy" as you claim.

As one of the blogmasters on this site, Art should be held accountable for comments/statements he makes. All I want to know is where he got his information regarding Gillaspie and Garner's MOTION at the April 7 town council meeting. This is not a tough question. Obviously, you don't understand the point of me referencing Town Minutes from April 7. This is NOT old news, but relates directly to the threads Art has started regarding the DRB. VC, did you know that the MOTION was made by Gillaspie and Garner to consider eliminating the DRB??? The blog threads/comments tend to imply that the concept to eliminate the DRB was initiated by the current council and mayor. This is NOT the case and I believe it is important to provide those facts. Those OLD facts are still pertinent!

This Good Old Boy is going to continue to question comments made on this blog to make sure that the readers are not misinformed!

Palomino said...

Bravo Zev and Cowgirl! Now let's hope that Lou Waters gets a backbone and sees this business "problem" for what it really is. I'm not anti-business. I just don't believe in coddling people. It seems to be a hallmark of this new generation (across the board -- not just business owners) that they all think they have some kind of entitlement.

Chuck Davis said...

One of my larger concerns if staff becomes the DRB is that they may feel that they are putting their jobs on the line by taking a potentially unpopular (with council members) position. This might affect their judgement beyond a reasonable point.
I think checks and balances are important and a democracy operates best when there is a sharing of power.

artmarth said...

As a person that has been keeping an eye on how our council and staff operate for more than a dozen years, here is what I have to say.

Generally, the staff---as it concerns developers, we're talking basically about the Planning Dep't that has historically been major advocates for developers.

I can cite many instances where this was the case.

One that comes to mind concerned the yet to be developed City Centre, located below La Reserve, across from Target on Oracle rd.

The developer was asking for among other entities, a car wash. The planner assigned to this development approached the council saying how beautiful a car wash can be.

Subsequently, the developer's spokesperson indicated that they were withdrawing the request for a car wash.

That was the last time, the staff spoke PRIOR to the applicant. Since that day, back in 2004, the staff does its presentation AFTER the applicant.

As to Jay's harping on who made what motion back in April, why don't we wait until a vote is taken by this council and then we'll all know who votes for what.

I'll close by saying this: When Mike Zinkin was chair of DRB, he made sure the members knew what the OV code was and he for one was always upholding the code, regardless of what others may have thought.

Jay D said...

Art, this will be my last comment on this subject. I am NOT "...harping on who made what motion back in April." I wanted to bring that information to your readers, because I doubt many of them were aware of it.

What I find frustrating is that you accuse me of "harping" on something, but had you just answered my question in the first place (why you said Garner and Gillaspie's motion was a "strategic move...to bide time") I would have stopped bringing it up. Maybe it was a comment you threw out there or maybe it was something that Gillaspie and Garner told you personally. Either way, I just wanted an answer!

OV Objective Thinker said...

Zev...

Your post raises several interesting discussion points.

The first is the "qualifications" of appointees. While that is a noble goal I doubt that it is practical. We have enough problems just getting applicants, much less those with specific quals to serve. In addition, having quals will not put a stop to the subectivity which has traditionally been an issue for the DRB.

Second, I would like you to expand on this paragraph. "I find it distressing that Town 'management'/governance might chip away at the ideals of citizen participation and do so in such dismissive manner as I have most recently read into certain statements made and published."
Without specificity, it a bit pale.

Lastly, I agree with your, "I also am getting tired of hearing that we are not 'business friendly' because we have certain rules and regs, certain processes, and that these things 'get in the way' of doing business." Where we may disagree is that I don't think it is the regs that are an issue, but the inconsistency of application or improper interpretation of those regs.

Art...

One of your responses caught my eye and I would like to further discuss it.

"Generally, the staff---as it concerns developers, we're talking basically about the Planning Dep't that has historically been major advocates for developers."

I believe that the Town Staff should be an advocate for those attempting to develop needed and desired products. The opposite of "advocate" is "opponent" and I don't think we want our staff to be a barrier to development. If a person presents themselves to our planning department as says that I want to build xyz on a piece of land that is zoned for xyz then the default answer should be yes and let me help you achieve your goal. I think many people believe and want the Town staff to take an adversarial role.

Zev Cywan said...

OVOT, your point relative to 'qualification' is well noted. My point is that citizen volunteers, having an interest, could go through a 'honing/education' process that would make the participants more adept and 'user' friendly. I know several persons who have been on or are on DRB and they are, in fact, quite dedicated. Also, the DRB has certain parameters within which they are supposed to concentrate and operate; primarily they are supposed to enforce codes not subjectively 'play' with them. Staff and Council already have enough on their plate; to assign them another responsibility can only require more staff (more expense). This is one of the 'checks and balances' entities; I have heard some (several) in this Community state [oh, just let the businesses/developers have a free hand in whatever it is they need]; this mentality reflects that a 'rubber stamp' potential could be created.I have found that what the development and/or business entities might think they need and what they actually, and, in fact, do need, can be miles apart. It appears to me that DRB has simply become another scapegoat in the 'blame game'. Incidentally, most municipalities in Arizona (and probably throughout the Country) have similar boards. If we get to the point where the Citizens are disregarded within the workings of Oro Valley and we are 'ruled' from the dais and administration building, then we will have no Oro Valley as an attractive symbiotic COMMUNITY within which to live and the 'fractures' will continue to go on and on and on!

Relative to your questioning my statement which includes the terminology 'dismissive manner',
I purposefully omitted specific statements illustrating such because I have every intention of speaking or writing to those who have made such statements and/or taken certain actions which reflect this type of attitude. So, I'll let you wonder about this for a bit longer.

Have a great weekend OVOT, everybody, I'm leaving for a few days.

Zev