Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Town Plans 50th Anniversary Celebration For Town That “Almost Never Was”

Becoming Oro Valley wasn’t easy
In April, the Town of Oro Valley will mark its 50th anniversary. This is a milestone that many now take for granted. Tonight, the Town Council will discuss plans for the celebration. And there is reason to celebrate because becoming Oro Valley was a hard thing to make happen. It took six years and then some to get to the point where people were sufficiently united to move forward.

The process of incorporation was a formidable and time-consuming endeavor, spearheaded by dedicated residents. Names you might have heard… like Jim Kriegh and Steve Engel. Not surprisingly, not only did the City of Tucson and Pima County actively fight against this move, but some community members also opposed it.

The town’s creation is detailed in the first chapter of Jim Williams Book “Oro Valley: The First 50 Years”. Here is some of we learned from his outstanding research.

Residents did not want to be Tucson… No Cluster Zone Developments 
It began with a threat of annexation. In March 1968, Tucson Mayor James Corby Junior announced the plan for the City to annex unincorporated Pima land north of the Rillito River as far as the intersection of Oracle Road and Calle Concordia.” (p10) Corby said he was going to do that at all cost. Tucson favored cluster zoning. Today, Oro Valley predominantly features clustered homes, with nearly all recent developments concentrating houses on smaller lots, preserving more desert areas. Contrastingly, in 1968, Oro Valley’s homes were predominantly on larger lots, embodying a more suburban character. During that time, homeowners strongly opposed the concept of clustered housing in their community, a key motivation behind their decision to incorporate the Town.

Residents did not want a City property tax
That would have been something that they would’ve incurred had the Tucson annexed the area. Those favoring incorporation promised the residents that they would never have a property tax in Oro Valley. The town is true to that concept even today. 

The “Town Founder” was the town engineer and council member
 Jim Kriegh is recognized as Oro Valley’s founding father, and there is even a park named in his honor. He dedicated a decade of relentless effort to both establish and maintain the town’s incorporation. Kreigh drew the boundaries of the town such that the southernmost boundary was sufficiently far from the city of Tucson to meet state requirements for incorporation. Kriegh was was appointed the Town engineer in 1976 and served as a member of council in the 1980's.

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