Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Editorial: More Housing Density? You Gotta Be Kidding!

On Tonight's council agenda:
Request to increase housing density at Town Centre
Item 2 on tonight's Oro Valley Town Council Meeting Agenda is a request to increase the allowed density of property on Oracle. It is south of Panera Bread, Mike's, and the bedding store on Oracle. It's part of the Town Centre PAD.

The reason given for the density increase is "market demand."  Could it be that there are more people who want to live within a few hundred feet or Oro Valley's noisiest high density traffic area so they can walk the length of 4 football fields in 105 degree heat to go to Target or Frys?

The request is such a patently ridiculous idea that we find it hard to believe that it actually made it on the agenda of this council
The request is ridiculous because it creates more cluster zoned homes crammed on small lots along the scenic Oracle Road corridor. This after the voters asked for a pause in the ever increasing assault of development in our once peaceful town.

As one of our readers wrote to us:

"This item is another attempt to continue the ravishing of Oro Valley. This item, if approved, will increase the number of lots the owner is now entitled to from 65 to 82. In order to do this the minimum lot size will be reduced from 15,000 sq. ft. to 6,000 sq. ft."

Just what Oro Valley needs. More small lots dumping more cars directly onto Oracle Road in an area known for congestion during rush hours.

The request means more mass grading
While there are a number of problems with this request, the worst is mass grading. The smaller lot sizes will allow mass grading on land that abuts Oracle Road. If you don't know the damages of this, you need to take a drive on 1st Avenue to see the ravishing of our beautiful town. The Villages of Silverhawke development, north of Palisades, shows the ugliness of cluster zoning and mass grading all too clearly.

Was the Planning and Zoning Commission bamboozled?
What surprises us is that the new Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-0 for this change. We think there were some shenanigans going on.
  • Why did Planning Manager Vella place this complicated issue on the agenda for their very first meeting of new members? 
  • Why did he make it even more confusing at the meeting by allowing the applicant to withdraw a portion of the amendment request at the last minute, creating confusion over what was being removed and what was to remain in the plan? 
  • Why weren't the applicants required to provide updated documents?
  • Why weren't the commissioners allowed more time to study this prior to voting? 
Clearly this application should have been held for a future Planning meeting. Blanket approvals are no longer acceptable in Oro Valley.

The people spoke in the last election: No more density
The people replaced the former council because they do not want more housing density. Cluster zoning on small lots is essentially all that was approved by the former Town Council.  Oro Valley does not want more dense housing.

This move to change the PAD zoning should be rejected. Let the applicant build under current zoning allowances and actually offer some "diverse land use" as required by the General Plan.