Monday, July 18, 2022

Mayoral Candidate Danny Sharp: “We Need More Rooftops”

Mayoral Candidates Danny Sharp and current Mayor Joe Winfield have different approaches to “Development”
This was noted at the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum of June 28. 

Sharp advocates for the “rooftop strategy”. Winfield does not
Danny Sharp stated at the Forum that Oro Valley needs to bring in on-site retail business in order to grow sales tax revenues.  According to Sharp: “We have to bring in more retail. We don’t have the retail because we need to bring in more rooftops.”

Winfield believes that the General Plan should guide whether variances and general plan amendments should be approved. The Winfield Council abided by the General plan during the past four years. Winfield promised to do so when he ran in 2018 and he did so. Only one general plan amendment was submitted and it was rejected because it did not fit the concept for that area.

The “rooftops strategy” is a revisit to the Hiremath Years
The “rooftops strategy” is a revisit to the Mayor Satish Hiremath years (2010-2018) of leadership. It was his strategy. Hiremath was eager to grow rooftops because he felt it would attract retail business and increase the town’s sales tax revenue. His council, which included current council candidate Bill Rodman and current Council Member Steve Solomon, approved a slew of general plan amendments, converting land into high density residential zoning. His council was so eager to increase rooftops that they approved several general plan amendments before the citizen vote that approved the 2016 “Your Voice, Our Future” general plan was ratified by the Secretary of State.

The “rooftops strategy” added to congestion but did not foster retail business success
As LOVE reported, the Hiremath Council left Oro Valley with a large pipeline of residences to build. As a result, the town’s population has and will continue to grow substantially.  Still, onsite retail struggles in this town before, during and now after the Pandemic. One merely needs to look at the vacancies at the Oro Valley Marketplace and the need for complete revisioning as an example of the failure of this strategy. Indeed, one could reasonably question the feasibility of the “rooftop strategy” in today’s retail world, a world where on-line retailing, a lack of personnel, and huge supply chain issues are plaguing brick and mortar retailers. 

We believe it was the rejection of the “rooftops strategy” that propelled Winfield, Barrett, Jones-Ivey and Nicholson to win the 2018 election, defeating Hiremath and his team. Voters were tired of the congestion that the rooftop strategy has caused.

Sharp will be more aggressive in pursuing growth.
For example, Sharp would have approved the Oro Valley Marketplace revisioning as presented 
Sharp blames Winfield for not approving the Oro Valley Marketplace revisioning as presented to council.

Sharp stated at the Forum: “When people propose projects we need to be sensitive to the fact that this costs them money. We need to be sensitive…We should have told Town West years ago that what they were proposing would not be approved and that they needed to come up with something that fits within the town’s framework.”

What was presented to council was vetted by town staff in detail, vetted at neighborhood meetings, vetted by the Planning and Zoning Commission, and vetted at a public hearing before council. This is the town’s process. There was no opportunity for the Council to tell Town West anything because the council can only discuss the project together in public at a hearing after this process has been completed. 

After all this, however, what was presented to council-15 exceptions to code, 75 foot tall buildings, and minimal road setbacks- was “not in character” with the town. Still, the council wanted to shape this project because the Oro Valley Marketplace is a commercial disaster; so they continued the application as opposed to rejecting it.

We believe that it is reasonable to conclude that Sharp would have approved the project as presented because the developer had invested so much into it and because the project had gone through a long process.

Sharp does agree with Winfield in one area. According to Sharp, speaking at the forum: “If [a developer] brings in something that is not in character with the town, we need to find a compromise to get to ‘Yes.’”That is exactly what Winfield did. In June, Town West, the owner of the Marketplace, presented a new plan that is more in line with existing codes and the character of the town . It is a revised plan that both Sharp and Winfield said they would support.

 "The properties currently under consideration for annexation
by the Town of Oro Valley are the two State Land‐ owned sites
indicated on the map below, referred to as Tangerine North
(302 acres), and Tangerine South (550 acres)."
Sharp will vigorously pursue the annexation of the Tangerine State Lands
Both Sharp and Winfield agree that town should annex the Tangerine Road State Lands. This is 852 acres, split into two portions (panel left). Sharp asserts that it should have happened long ago because he worked on it with State Lands when he was interim town manager (June 2016 to September 2017). 

However, as stated by Winfield and as reported in LOVE, the State discontinued conversation with the town in July of 2019 because State Lands was short of staff. They were to continue discussions in November of that year but failed to do so. Sharp would seek to restart these discussions immediately. The town’s annexation plan calls for seeking this annexation in the near term.

…Though not all residents want this annexation
It is not at all clear that residents want the town to annex these lands and open them for development. Annexation and development of these lands met significant opposition from residents when presented at neighborhood meetings.
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