Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Guest view-Diane Peters: What Tomorrow's General Plan Amendment Hearing Means To You

Love has previously reported that there are two general plan amendments that will be heard at tomorrow's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Our citizens group, Citizen Advocates of the Oro Valley General Plan, is attempting to defeat these requests.


As our name implies, we are advocating for the current voter-approved General Plan. As such, we do not support any land use changes at this time.

One of these requests (Northwest Corner of LaCholla Blvd. and Naranja Drive / 8 acres) will allow the land to be used for commercial purposes.  The other (LaCholla Blvd. and Naranja Southwest / 202 acres) request would build a master-planned community where lower density was approved by voters.

As reported previously, there have been four public hearings on this amendment request.    Those attending  expressed concerns on many factors, ranging from traffic issues to market need.

Some members of Citizen Advocates of the Oro Valley General Plan met with the applicant (Paul Oland) and the landowner (James Kai) for 4 hours on November 3rd. They spent two hours discussing some concerns and questions that the group still had and then spent the remaining two hours attempting to negotiate some conditions in the event that the Town Council passes these proposals with conditional approval.

We discussed a number of areas.  We learned much more of the applicant's plans. They learned much more about our concerns.

  • For example, we asked what was the urgency to push these GPA’s through now when the citizens are currently working on the 2015 General Plan?    The applicant responded that they initially approached the town 2-3 years ago about this and were told to wait for the new General Plan. They waited a year and nothing happened with the General Plan. Waited another year and still nothing. They’re worried that the overhaul might not result in what they want for this property. They feel they’re running the risk of running out of Oro Valley home lots.
  • Why, we asked,  do you want to sandwich high density townhomes or senior care between low density and medium density? The applicant's response was that LaCholla will soon be a big road and will be well-travelled. High density fits with that location. That applicant did agree with us that apartments are not needed because "they are not in demand."

The final Planning and Zoning Commission Hearing is scheduled for tomorrow at 6PM town hall. We hope that you will attend. If Planning and Zoning Commission sends the application on to the Town Council, that public hearing will take place on December 10th.

We urge that the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Council consider, apply and publicly address each of the 5 requirements for proving a major general plan amendment. These are:
  • The proposal must be consistent with the vision, goals, and policies of the General Plan. 
  • The burden is on the applicant to prove that conditions in the community have changed to warrant a change in the land use
  • The applicant must prove that the plan will lead to the socio-economic betterment of the community
  • The applicant must demonstrate that market demand exists for the proposed land uses. 
  • The proposal must also achieve general community acceptance and it must not adversely impact the community as a whole or in part.
Diane Peters is a resident of Oro Valley.  

1 comment:

Richard Furash, MBA said...

By background I've been an environmental planner for about 15 years. My expertise is NOT in this type of development or permitting but I do have some understanding and I have been part of a neighborhood that opposed a similar development in Carlsbad CA in 2006. So some observations and thoughts:

Despite what was said last night (Nov 20) this is all about making money. That's what developers do. They'd be in another business otherwise. It seems to me (and I have not read the document) the towns General Plan uses very loose verbiage when it comes to development goals etc... and that's pretty common in these types of documents. "Should" means you don't have to and "Shall" means you have to. So there is A LOT of room to interpret things.
There was a presentation about market supply and demand and changing conditions. Here's how I see things: If there are available houses then people will buy them (price depending), if there are not then they won't. I think its very disingenuous to say things like "it was always meant for this land to be developed". The city is not going to force the Kai's to develop that land. There is nothing making them do that other than the desire to get some income from it. If there are 5,000 open units of some type in Oro Valley then we should expect that at some time they will be filled and there's always some empty housing stock due to population turnover. What I don't see is a changing condition driving the development of new housing stock, e.g. development of an oil shale play outside of town and thousands of new workers flooding the area with their families and looking for a place to live. That's a real issue in North Dakota but not here.
I'm disturbed that they would approve up to this many units without a traffic study. That would NOT happen in CA and for good reason. From what I saw last night we are currently adding or proposing to add a LOT of new homes in proximity to two schools, one school which is flooded with our poorest drivers, i.e. 16-18 year olds. Single family homes generate traffic, townhomes and condos generate more traffic than SF homes, and retail businesses generate SIGNIFICANTLY more traffic than residential homes. The proposed retail business that I heard listed last night, Starbucks, Chipotle, etc....generate a lot of traffic due to the turnover in customers. To me it's appalling that a traffic study has not been done. Without that we're guessing at what the impact would be. Even if LaCholla is widened and can accommodate it I don't think Naranja or Lambert can. It's a serious issue and I wish I knew more about the development requirements for Oro Valley.
Same question on drainage. Why hasn't a drainage study been done. Once all that new hardscape is added those washes will be receiving significantly more runoff during the Monsoon. If I lived south of Lambert I'd be concerned.
We moved here in 2011. Oro Valley does not have a "downtown" commercial development the way most towns do. It looks like it was intended to be the La Canada corridor since that's where you have a lot of existing commercial development plus the town hall, police station, post office etc.. but it's apparent it never really happened and now that focus appears to be more along Oracle where Innovation Marketplace is. To me that's a sign of poor planning decisions and that would be why we are seeing some poor planning decisions now.
An attorney would need to answer this question but how can the mayor and city council make an objective vote when their campaigns have clearly been financed by these individuals.
If you really want to have the Council vote against this these and other issues need to be raised to all the council members.