Information provided by the Town and the Applicant (WLB Group)
This is the 4th rezoning application on this property. All previous applications were withdrawn after vocal citizen opposition citing that the proposed developments were not compatible with surrounding homes and would also have detrimental impacts on the environment, water, schools, drainage, and traffic.
The property now has a new owner, known at this time only as “a local investment group.”
The current proposal calls for the clustering of homes on the northern half of the property (near Ironwood Ridge HS) while leaving the southern half of the property (adjacent to Owl Vista) as natural open space due to the considerable amount of ironwood trees on the southern portion of the property.
This parcel is surrounded by custom homes on 3.3 acre lots (and larger) west and south of the property. The plan calls for several hundred feet of buffer between the development and the homes to the south on Owl Vista. There will be a 300 foot buffer on the western edge of the property along Shannon Road. There will be some buffer on the northern and eastern edge of the property as well but the amount was not specified.
The entire Right-of-Way on Shannon is Town controlled. The ROW ends at Lambert Lane. The Town does not control that intersection. Additionally, all streets west of Shannon are part of Pima County and not Oro Valley.
Neighbors raised the following questions:
Are you allowed to come back at a later time and develop the southern portion of the property?
No, we cannot deviate from the plan once it’s approved by council. (Caveat: They can come back later and ask for a rezoning on the southern portion and develop it separately. There is nothing preventing them from doing this at a later time.)
Voters just approved the General Plan in November. Why are you already asking for a rezoning?
All property owners are allowed to request land use changes. It makes more sense to go through the standard amendment process rather than to change it during the General Plan process.
Why can’t we limit the number of rezoning applications to maybe 3 in 10 years? How many times do we have to do this before we get peace in our neighborhood?
That has to be taken up with the Arizona General Legislature.
There are ironwood trees on the northern portion as well. Why is it OK to build there and not in the southern portion which also has ironwood trees?
The Town identified the lower half of the property as being more dense with ironwood trees.
What kind of light can we expect from this development? Stadium lights from the school already block our night skies and the stars during football season.
It will be Dark Skies compliant. There will be no street lights. Schools do not have to abide by the Dark Skies ordinance.
If we file a formal protest, where does the boundary begin?
150 feet from the property boundary to be amended.
What fees does the Town collect on these developments?
There are small application fees and review fees. There is also a construction tax. Then there are larger fixed fees—impact fees, due to impacts on our police department and roads. These fees are applied to the Town’s infrastructure.
Why would the Town vote no and dismiss this project when it means that it won’t collect these fees?
No answer given.
Neighbors presented the following concerns and comments:
All this talk about the water shed and traffic flow is a distraction. This proposal will never fit the character of this area. Shannon is rural. There are 5 acre properties on the west side of Shannon. This proposal is no more scenic now than the proposal we saw in 2008.
They argue that this is appropriate development because they have high density housing to the east. That’s not our neighborhood.
We moved to R1-144 zoning because we wanted a desert environment. We’re concerned about the loss of the desert and the wildlife. Traffic is already a nightmare every morning with IRHS traffic. We don’t need to add another 108 homes with another 200 cars added to this daily traffic.
Prove a hardship to the property owner if they’re not allowed to rezone the land to their desire. The new owners accepted the property “as is.” They knew the land use. They knew the zoning.
This proposal calls for bulldozing like at Capella Estates. You want to bulldoze one half of 76 acres. I’d rather see the entire parcel developed with the current zoning of 1 home per 3.3 acres with no mass grading.
The 7.5 foot side setbacks on each home is nuts. Deed the remaining land on the parcel to the Town so that this owner can’t come back later and ask for another rezoning and more development on the lower half of this property.
Will they listen?
The applicant said, “We’re here to listen.” But will they? Listening is one thing. Acting accordingly is another. Past history tell us that they will do whatever they think they can get away with.
If there is any friction on council about this development, the applicant will compromise in order to get the votes he needs. If there is no friction on council, there will be no compromise despite the valid concerns of the nearby residents. In other words, “Rural Shannon” residents will need to get some of the council members on their side.
Councilmembers in Attendance
In attendance at this meeting were Councilmembers Joe Hornat, Bill Rodman, and Lou Waters. Also in attendance were Planning & Zoning commissioners, Don Cox, Tom Gribb, and Bob Swope. Keep in mind that all six of them heard all of the dissent, opposition, and concerns of the residents in attendance. They heard the anger and frustration. They heard the loud applause after each resident spoke. Whom will they represent when the time comes to vote -- the citizens whom they were elected to serve or the developers and builders who fund their election campaigns?
This meeting was the first informational meeting after which the applicant will file a formal submittal with the Town. After that, there will be at least one more Neighborhood Meeting followed by two Planning & Zoning hearings. The first P&Z meeting is informational and the second is when P&Z will decide whether to forward this on to the Council for a vote. If they forward it to the Council, there will be a Town Council meeting which includes a Public Hearing prior to the vote.
You can learn more about this project at www.ovprojects.com