Monday, June 27, 2016

Guest View-Frank Pitts: Observations Of A Commission Member,

On several occasions I observed Councilmembers Brendan Burns, Bill Garner, and Mike Zinkin (the three) go above and beyond to support our little Town. Some of their actions, almost exclusive to them, include questioning budget numbers, the golf courses purchase, and new developments. Councilmember Zinkin arranged additional meetings with neighbors and developers.  All three fully support and uphold the Town’s General Plan. During 2014 and 2015, I served on the Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission ("P & Z").  I was the squeaky wheel on the Commission.  I would often vote against staff recommendations when they did not follow Oro Valley’s General Plan.

In March 2014, before my first P & Z meeting, I prepared diligently; walked the proposed rezoning property; read the entire General Plan; and contacted Town Staff with my questions and concerns with the proposed rezoning. I was informed by Town Staff that the Oro Valley General Plan is only a guideline and that Oro Valley ordinances and codes are the only rules to follow.  Yet, at my first P & Z meeting, staff only presented guidelines from the General Plan.  

After encountering several road blocks from Town Staff, P & Z Chairman Cox and Councilmember Hornat, I began to realize this was not an environment to question “authority”.  My 2 years as a Commissioner were filled with 6 – 1 votes with me being the sole “Nay” voter.  I wanted to voice my concerns about the “build til we bust” mentality.  I found only Councilmembers Burns, Garner, and Zinkin were willing to listen.  Through observation and discussion, I learned that these three were the only ones on council who always prepared for meetings by expending the time and effort to do their own research on the issues. They often question items brought before the Council, and vote according to what best suits Oro Valley.

During my time on P&Z, the Neighborhood Meeting Process needed revisions. Oro Valley Resident Bill Adler and I met and worked together to identify what would be a balanced process for the residents and developers. The Council changed part of the Neighborhood Meeting Process for the better, but not all. Councilmembers Burns, Garner, and Zinken fought for more transparency, but being in the minority their recommendations were nullified.

I did not achieve more compliance with the General Plan during my tenure on the P &Z Commission, but my voice was heard by the three councilmembers who care about using the General Plan in decision making. These three are the core reason Oro Valley hasn’t been pushed further with more rooftops and urbanization of our open spaces.  

Councilmembers Zinkin, Burns and Garner are fighting to keep the GOLD in Oro Valley.

Frank Pitts
Oro Valley