Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Guest View: Diane Peters ~ Planning Department enters the Circle of Deceit. Part 1.

Major Town decisions that affect us all, from how much we pay in sales taxes to the quality of development in our neighborhoods, are often being decided based on false information.

In two LOVE articles last week (Oro Valley Government lies to the citizens and Troon Enters the Circle of Deceit) you learned of the many falsehoods being disseminated by the Town of Oro Valley. Whether it’s deliberate lying on their part or just plain incompetence remains to be seen (but either way, it doesn’t serve us citizens well).

A presentation given by a town planner at last Tuesday’s Planning and Zoning meeting was the latest example.

The March 6th P&Z Meeting contained an agenda item for a rezoning of Saguaro Viejos, a single-family residential development on the west side of LaCholla between Glover Road and Lambert Lane. This 85 acre parcel is currently untouched pristine desert containing numerous saguaros and an abundance of mature desert vegetation that is home to a variety of wildlife. It’s one of the most picturesque desert landscapes left in Oro Valley.

History of the parcel
When I moved to Oro Valley in 2003, that parcel was zoned for rural residential, one home per 144,000 square feet (3.3 acres). In 2007, it was rezoned down to 20,000 square foot lots. The same developer (The WLB Group) who requested that 20,000 square foot rezoning, has now come back requesting another rezoning down to 7,000 square foot lots.

They poked the bear
Since 7,000 square foot lots are not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, I was curious as to what justification the developer had given the Town for requesting this rezoning.

A few days prior to the meeting, I researched the P&Z packet on the Town website. These are the documents that P&Z Commissioners review prior to the meeting to familiarize themselves with the proposal. The packet was compiled by staff members in the Town Planning Department.

A glaring error
While reviewing the packet, I discovered a glaring error regarding adjacent lot sizes which prompted me to show up at the meeting and speak during the Public Hearing portion.

Prior to the Public Hearing, a Planning Department staff member (Milini Simms) gave a presentation on the proposal. The erroneous information that I found in the packet also appeared in her Power Point presentation and she verbally repeated the false information during her presentation. Between the packet, the slide presentation, and her speech, the P&Z Commissioners had now seen or heard the false information THREE TIMES…false information that they would then use in formulating their decision to approve or reject the application.

And now I was loaded for bear.

Part 2 will be published on Wednesday and includes the speech I gave before the P&Z Commissioners, the false information that was disseminated by the Town, and the results of the vote.