Monday, January 3, 2022

Marketplace Plan Requires Town To "Transfer Ownership of Land"

Big Changes sought for the Oro Valley Marketplace
The Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing Thursday on proposed changes to the Oro Valley Marketplace. The changes cannot happened unless the town council approves changes to the the land's current zoning. 

It also cannot happen unless the town transfers ownership of at least part of the CDO multi use path and a parcel on Tangerine Road to satisfy open space zoning requirements for the plans.

There are four items being requested
  1. Reclassify the drainage area to create a central entertainment district.
    This is an amendment to the "“Environmentally Sensitive Land Ordinance” zoning map.  This ordinance, reluctantly passed by council in 2011, dictates open space requirements by land area. The area in question is a drainage area that the ESL designates for 95% open space. The request is to change the designation to reduce the open space requirement.
  2. Permit apartments and hotels
    The applicants want to use the Environmentally Sensible Open Space ("ESL") zoning option mixed use flexible design option to permit apartments and hotels. This option applies when the site will conserve a minimum of 25% of the area as ESL. The staff argues that the applicant's request meets this requirement because of land that the previous developer in 2007 gave to the county along Big Wash. This is now county land.
  3. Increase building heights and reduce buffer zones
    The applicant wants to the town to revise code standards by amending the Rancho Vistoso PAD, Neighborhood 4 (Note: A PAD is a zoning document covering a specific area that represents a higher and better level of regulation than the town zoning code). The applicant wants to increase heights for the apartments and the hotels, landscape buffers and setbacks as well as permit a drive through use in the shopping center.
  4. Revise site and landscape design for the new building and entertainment district and the associated parking and circulation design changes.According to Michael Spaeth, town planner:  “Should any of the first three not be approved by town council the fourth can not be approved.”
Town Staff  advocates for the changes
The area population does not justify a regional mall
In his presentation at a study session to the Planning and Zoning Commission on December 14, Spaeth referred to a study town staff had done on regional shopping centers in Arizona. He concluded: "Ultimately the market place has too much supply and not enough people to support the center." (We knew this 15 years ago when we fought against the town giving the developer money, in the form of sales tax revenues, to build it.)

Staff permits use of county-owned wash land to justify the ESL requirement for mixed use
Staff is also "bending backwards" to approve the apartment zoning change request by saying that the requirement to meet the ESL amendment was met because the previous developer gave the county 77 acres along big wash in 2008. "The 77 acres exceed the requirements of the zoning codes to use these flexible design options." This land is not owned by the applicant. 

Building height increases are alright because they are far from neighbors
There are five building height variances. The existing limit is 40 feet.
  • Tangerine Apartments: 75 feet
  • Oracle Apartments: 59 feet
  • Three hotels: 49 feet
According to Spaeth, these height variances are alright because they are "far away" from neighbors.

Town owned CDO use path counts as recreational space
"The zoning code requires that recreational facilities be provided on the same lot as the units. The applicant is proposing to use both amenities within the buildings and throughout the center to meet the recreational requirements."  This the proposed entertainment center and the town owned "CDO use path."

Land ownership transfers from Town of Oro Valley and ADOT must happen for this plan to move forward
A transfer of land from the town and from ADOT is a "condition of approval", as defined by the planning staff. 

One of these transfers of land ownership is from  ADOT along Tangerine and Oracle Roads. This is a few months from happening. The item will be presented to council after this transfer has occurred.

The other transfer involves land now owned by the town; some of which appears to be the multi-use path that runs along the wash.  This has not been highlighted in any forum nor discussed by to the public until this posting. The land in question can be seen in the "Conceptual Site Plan" panel. 
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