Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Barrett, Bohen, Nicolson "Shine" in Championing The General Plan

Clear support for the general plan
Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett, Council Members Tim Bohen and Josh Nicolson provided clear and unwavering support of the "Your Voice, Our Future" General Plan during last week's hearing of the Kai-Capri General Plan Amendment. They voted "No" together with Council Members Jones-Ivey. (Mayor Winfield voted "Yes".)

Barrett did her homework
Vice Mayor Barrett relies on her own analysis and not town staff to made decisions on the part of the residents. As a result, she concluded that the land use of this property should remain neighborhood commercial. She proffered five arguments in support.

There is already much land in the area zoned for residential use, land that has yet to be used
The argument that the town needs more residential property in the area of First and Tangerine to support retail located in the area has been used numerous times to justify converting commercially zoned property to residential. In fact, the prior council approved a number of commercial to retail zoning changes that are reasonably near First Avenue and Tangerine, properties that do not yet have residencies. These include Nakoma Sky (behind Home Depot); property at Rancho Vistoso and Vistoso Highlands Drive, property on the corner of LaCanada and Moore Road; and BigWash. To add yet another property before seeing the impact of these on retail in the area makes no sense. The town needs to first see how these other areas “play out”.

There are long term financial impacts on town spending to be considered
The town needs to move carefully, according to Barrett. There are long term financial impacts on town spending to be considered. She reminded the council of a study they had commissioned that noted that “The cost of municipal services is generally less for non residential development than for residential development.” Commercial haas more of an impact on the town.

Impact of recent land use changes to improve primary employment in area need time to bear fruit
Barrett also wants to see the impact of recent changes approved by this council before making yet another decision to rezone the Kai-Capri property. “We have spent a lot of the past two years... to expand property for primary employment.. Just a few months ago we passed a zoning code that would expand the allowable uses on this property... to allow it to be used for primary employment. Let’s see if this works before we consider rezoning for a different use.”

According to Barrett, the town had only 188 acres available for primary employment land before this change. Oro Valley already has a significant deficit in primary employment land compared to other towns (Marana). A town study said Oro Valley needed 300 acres to meet its ten year primary employee goal. Changing the zoning on the Kai-Capri property reduces primary employment land.

Amendment goes against some key general plan goals
“To me, there are goals in the general plan”.. that matter to her that the change proposed does not enrich. This property as currently zoned enhances some of the key challenges of meeting the general plan including the achieving the goals of improving long term financial and economic sustainability of the community, providing robust job opportunity for quality employment, minimizing traffic and maintaining a small town feel

Property, as zone, provides ideal commercial space
Her conclusion was that the Kai-Capri property as currently zoned provides for ideal commercial space. It is next to other commercial property. It’s close to “shovel ready.” The corner of First and Tangerine is one of the. last spaces in Oro Valley that provide significant commercial use opportunity.

Listen to her remarks in the panel above.

Nicolson presents two reasons he voted "no" 
Council Member Nicolson observed that proponents saying that there is not enough people living in the area of First and Tangerine fail to consider the enormous amount of discretionary spending just north of the area. He reiterated his commitment to supporting what he believes residents want (See panel left)

Bohen, likewise, did his homework
New Council Member Tim Bohen observed that the town has already done much since 2015 to make this area commercially feasible such as approving the Silverhawk development, the expansion of commercial land use to enable primary employment, the widening of Tangerine Road to provide better access to the area and marketing activities on the part of the town to let people know properties such as this are available for construction.

He concluded: “We are only three years into this ten year general plan.” This request “... does not rise to the threshold required for a change to the general plan. I respect the work that was done. I respect following the process.” 
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