Wednesday, the Oro Valley Town Council unanimously passed a motion to actively engage in negotiations to purchase the former Vistoso golf course 208 acre plot. The purchase target date is April 1. Mayor Winfield noted that there is potential monetary support from grants such as the State’s “Water and Conservation Fund". Whatever the town pays would be matched dollar for dollar by that fund.
Purchase for an elusive "Fair Market Value"
The motion stipulates that the town purchase the property at fair market value (FMV). Romspen, the property owner, has already rejected a FMV proposal from The Conservation Fund. That value is based on the land as it is currently zoned.
Romspen has a different view of the FMV of the property, one, we believe, that values the property as it will be if it is rezoned for home lots as Romspen has requested.
We suspect that the difference between these values is in the many millions of dollars range.
Council rejected proposal to join a negotiating group formed by Council Member Solomon
The motion passed after council rejected (5-2) a motion that would have engage the town with a smaller group, led by Council Member Solomon. At the meeting, Solomon said that he has been in contact with a Romspen representative and that he has devised a framework that, he believe, could result in a resolution of this issue in 60 days. He declined to state what the framework entails.
Members of that group would have included Solomon the Vistoso Community Association, Preserve Vistoso, Romspen and the town’s manager. The town’s involvement would have been more as a facilitator and observer and not as a purchaser. I think we have a real breakthrough here,” Council Member Steve Solomon stated in reference to this approach.
Eminent Domain is a long a costly process
Another alternative discussed at the meeting, one that appears tabled for the moment, is the town’s condemnation of the property. According to town attorney Gary Cohen, condemnation would require several years to occur and the purchase price would be indeterminate until a later date, if it became a matter for a jury to decide.