Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Guest View: Diane Peters – Protocol Not Followed During the February 7 Planning and Zoning Commission Hearing for OVCN Rezoning

The February 7th Planning and Zoning Commission meeting was a poorly run meeting as both the Chair and the Town Attorney failed to take control of the meeting.

Chairman Herrington has only been the Chair for about a month or so, so maybe he's not yet confident enough to speak up, but this is where the expertise of the town attorney comes in and he should have spoken up and given some direction.

Below are some of the problems that occurred that evening.

Five OVCN congregants were allowed to speak prior to the Public Hearing
The applicant pulled “a stunt” in scheduling five people from OVCN to speak during the applicant’s presentation rather than later in the evening during the Public Hearing.

Although the Chair did speak up when one OVCN congregant began her speech and suggested that her speech was more appropriate for the public hearing, she was adamant and said, “I was asked to speak as a member of the church and so this is what I’ve prepared.” She then continued with her speech and he allowed it. She should have been told to come back and speak during the public hearing like everyone else.

Four other OVCN congregants were also allowed to speak during the applicant’s presentation rather than during the Public Hearing portion of the meeting as is customary.

OVCN members were allowed to applaud after each OCVN speaker was finished speaking
Prior to the Public Hearing, when OVCN representatives and congregants were speaking at the podium, the OVCN audience was applauding after each speech and the Chair allowed it and did not instruct them to cease from applauding. He did not issue a directive of no applause until it was time for the Public Hearing portion when people opposed to the rezoning would also be speaking.

Pastor Collins spent a lot of time making derogatory comments about the neighbors
What does his opinion of the neighbors have to do with the rezoning and why didn't the Chair or the town attorney stop him and instruct him to change the direction of his speech? I've seen council members call a Point of Order when a speaker becomes disrespectful. Shouldn’t this also be done during Planning and Zoning hearings?

The church’s attorney spoke but never identified himself
After Paul Oland’s presentation (the applicant representing the church), Oland said that the OVCN attorney was going to speak next but he never introduced him by name. When the attorney approached the podium, he also never stated his name. He just launched into his speech and the Chair did not interrupt him and tell him to state his name for the record. Isn't it incumbent on the Chair to interrupt the speaker and require that they state their name and whether they are a resident of Oro Valley?

Speakers from OVCN were allowed to witness to God and Jesus during the meeting
Why is this allowed when it’s irrelevant to the topic being discussed? Others in attendance should not have to be subjected to their religious proselytizing and witnessing to God at these meetings. That is not the purpose of the meeting and it just causes the meeting to drag on for much longer than necessary. Can the chair instruct speakers that this will not be allowed and that they must discuss the rezoning only?

“You’re out of order! This whole hearing is out of order!”
I thought I’d toss in a little Al Pacino humor.

This whole incident reminded me of how the Green Shirts took over the town meetings during the golf course discussions and how no one stopped them despite them being extremely rude to town officials and also to any speakers who spoke in opposition to keeping the golf courses open. The town should be in control of the meetings -- not OVCN, not the Green Shirts, or any group that exhibits this kind of behavior.

This rezoning will now be heard and voted on by the Town Council. I hope the mayor and town attorney will not allow a repeat performance of the breach of protocol that transpired at this Planning and Zoning meeting.

Diane Peters has lived in Oro Valley since 2003, moving here to escape the humidity of the East Coast. She’s been involved in OV politics and development issues since 2006, including organizing a citizens group in 2014 that spent 9 months negotiating a controversial 200-acre development project. In her past life, she worked in medical research at various University Hospitals in New England. Her interests include reading, writing, nature photography, travel, art galleries, museums, and politics.