Monday, November 10, 2014

Oro Valley Staff To Examine Neighborhood Meeting Procedures

The Oro Valley Town Council directed town staff to review current neighborhood meeting standard operating procedures ("SOP") in relation to major general plan amendments. The objective is to insure that these meetings reflect best practices and, perhaps, closer conformance to the requirements of the 2015 General Plan.

Council Member Hornat does not see the neighborhood meeting format of today as being broken.  "I think we've refined this process very well." Nonetheless, he believes that it is "Its time to take a look at [the SOP] and refresh it."

Council Member's Garner and Zinkin asked that the SOP be reviewed because some of the current neighborhood meeting procedures are not inline with the requirements of the 2005 General Plan (2005 General Plan, page 15) regarding major general plan amendments.

According to the plan, there is supposed to be a public hearing after the amendment has been reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission and before it is heard by council.  This public hearing does not happen.

Council Member Zinkin stated that he had "...received emails about the open house format that the town is using at neighborhood meetings." This is a format in which the applicant and town staff break into different groups to discuss the application instead of having the applicant stand in front of the attendees to discuss the request and to answer questions.

The trouble with that is that it is not within our existing code" because it does not facilitate open dialogue as required by code.

Council Member Waters observed that the current the open house meeting format  has no nefarious intent. In, fact, he asserted that it has just the opposite effect.  Council Member Snider agreed.

Council Member Burns agreed that a review of the SOP was in order.

Mayor Hiremath recommended that nothing be done at the moment since the town is drafting a new general plan.  "We want the neighbors educated," he noted. He said, however, that he was unwilling to change the code to conform with a general plan since any change would likely be effective for a few short years.  He felt that investigating this at this time is not a good use of town staff time.

The council did not set a timetable for the review.

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