Oct. 6, 2004 - Oro Valley has convened a new committee to address why the General Plan failed last November and get the document back to the public for a vote in 2005.
The General Plan Update Revision Committee, made up of 11 Oro Valley representatives, will begin meeting this month with the goal of recommending needed changes that will meet with majority support at the polls in November 2005.
The committee was chosen by taking an appointment from each councilmember, one representative from the development community, one from the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce and two representatives of OV Beyond 2004, a political action committee that opposed the failed plan.
During the selection process, there was debate over having enough citizens represented while at the same time choosing people with enough familiarity with the process to get the job done. During a Sept. 20 study session, the council directed the staff to ask the town's boards and commissions for recommended appointments to the committee. None of the recommendations were chosen by councilmembers for final appointments. The town also received 11 volunteer applications for the committee after the town voted to advertise the opportunity to the public. Four of the 11 were appointed to the committee.
The group will be working on a tight deadline. The council has asked for a preliminary report by the end of October, an update by the end of November and the final report due by mid-December, subject to change based on staff and council input.
Councilmember Barry Gillaspie said, "We understand it's a pretty big workload," but that the ultimate goal is to have the document ready to be voted on by residents in the November 2005 general election.
The revisions are only the beginning of the process.
Once completed, the revised document should go to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Town Council for review, according to a process outlined by Director of Development Services Bryant Nodine in a council communication. The review period is 60 days. Two commission public hearings should be scheduled in two separate locations. Then the council should schedule a hearing. After it has gone through that public process, only then can the council vote to adopt the plan and declare an election. The staff has suggested that the General Plan should not be on the same ballot as a town council election, based on the experiences of two other communities that did not have their plans ratified by the electorate.
According to Nodine, the last group tasked with looking at the General Plan had 15 to 17 "active" members and 22 total members. The group that helped generate the 1996 plan, the one still in use today, had 91 residents on 13 different sector boards with one representative from each board on a steering committee.
The council has cited a list of about 20 items within the document that need to be addressed, in addition to others the group might feel are necessary as it moves through the process.
After the document failed to meet with voter approval, the previous council and staff launched an effort to get feedback as to why. A telephone survey was conducted, a series of public meetings was held and advertisements were placed in local newspapers soliciting feedback from the public. That information was condensed into a report to the council by Nodine. The results indicated that the specificity and flexibility of the plan was in question, and was tied to a lack of trust in the town's government, that development policies were not acceptable, particularly in regards to the use of mixed-use neighborhoods, high density housing, growth control and open space preservation. There also was concern over future taxes and a financial model projecting future revenues and disagreement over the processes of adopting and amending the plan.
Members of groups such as OV Beyond 2004 also compiled reasons why they felt the plan failed and submitted those reasons to councilmembers.
The 89-page plan involved 13 areas. They are: land use, including growth areas; community design; economic development; cost of development; transportation circulation; public facilities, services and safety; housing; parks and recreation; arts and culture; archaeological and historic resources; open space and natural resource conservation; water resources; and environmental planning. Growth areas, environmental planning, cost of development and water resources are newly required elements.
Councilmember Barry Gillaspie set down and drew upon on all the feedback that was compiled after the General Plan failed and put together a "comprehensive list of the things that were contentious" to be examined by this new committee.
He said there are not really trends that could be drawn from the feedback, but that there were a number of issues that could fall under broader topics of land use, previous findings of fact and the use of significant resources.
"My perception was that there were a lot of folks that probably didn't agree with some of the policies," he said.
"All of these things just have to get out there. They have to be aired."
Councilmember Terry Parish said moving into the next months when the committee will meet to work on revisions, he hopes the group will take its charge seriously.
"They need to take the issues that failed, as identified by the council, and use their diverse backgrounds to come up with a solution," he said.
One of the biggest problems to be addressed, Parish said, will be the use of property for mixed-use purposes.
Also, he said there was a perception by some citizens that the failed plan did not have enough teeth, using words such as "may" instead of "shall." Twelve percent of 220 policies in the proposed plan included the use of the word "shall" according to staff reports.
Parish said this is important to some because using "may" could mean that councils in the future could choose to ignore what is outlined in the document.
"The council should really, really be encouraged to follow it," Parish said. "It's what the people said they wanted."
Councilmember Conny Culver, one of the members who pushed to get the formation of a committee on the agenda, said in regards to the group, "we need to keep it streamlined, keep it moving and get to a vote in 2005," at a Sept. 20 study session.
She said "we are all painfully aware of why the General Plan failed" and said it is time to address those issues and get it back to voters.
Kristen Keener Busby, a senior planner with the Arizona Department of Commerce, said she keeps "an informal listing" of the status of the various community and county general and comprehensive plans throughout the state.
She estimates there are fewer than 10 communities in the state, out of 88, that still need the electorate to pass their general plans.
A General Plan is required to be in place by Arizona law and the law requires zoning to be in conformance with a General Plan.
Cities and towns must update general plans as a result of state enacted Growing Smarter legislation in 1998 and 2000 that established a set of new requirements for the preparation and adoptions of new plans.
The Department of Commerce is the entity charged by the state to keep track of General Plan information, according to Byron Smith, with the Arizona League of Cities and Towns.
Keener Busby said the plans are currently tracked using direct conversation with community representatives and newspaper articles.
"I have to admit the difficulty in staying current of so many evolving processes," she said.
One of the communities that recently had its plan fail at the ballot the first time is now in the process of seeking public comment on the revised general plan and will resubmit that plan at a public vote at its next regularly scheduled spring election, she said.
According to the Department of Commerce, a General Plan: is general in nature; provides a statement of community goals and development policies; designates the general distribution, location and extent of land use; determines general location and extent of existing and proposed circulation systems; provides an overall guide for community growth and development; provides the basic framework for future development; and considers economic development in tune with the social well-being and health of the community.
The plan should set a goal that is a "statement of a desired long-term end result." It should outline specific activities to carry out each objective and provide a framework for ensuring action of the visions and policies of the plan.
General Plans should be updated whenever necessary "to reflect changing conditions, as well as changing community perception," according to the department information. Direct citizen involvement is required in developing the plan so that it is representative of the wishes of everyone in the community.
General Plan committee members
The following individuals have been appointed to serve on a committee that will revise the town's General Plan. The town intends to have the new document ready to go before voters by the November 2005 general election:
€ Bill Adler, OV Beyond 2004 representative, a critic of the plan that went to the polls in 2003. The political action committee had campaigned against Focus 2020 and outlined reasons why the original measure failed. Adler also served on the previous steering committee that helped guide the failed document.
€ Carl "Tony" Kuehn, OV Beyond 2004 representative, chair of the same committee that was against the plan that went to the polls in 2003.
€ Melanie Larson, publisher of EXPLORER Newspapers and representative from the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce. Larson served on the previous steering committee.
€ Ed Taczanowsky, executive director of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and representative of the development community.
€ Don Chatfield, appointed by Mayor Paul Loomis, Naranja Town Site Master Plan Executive Committee Chairman and Primavera Builders executive director.
€ Rosalie Roszak, appointed by Vice Mayor Paula Abbott, a community activist who was visibly involved in town politics throughout the 1990s but has not recently been as active.
€ Doug McKee, appointed by Councilmember Kenneth "KC" Carter, Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission member.
€ Terree Bergman, appointed by Councilmember Conny Culver, has lived in Oro Valley for under a year, but has more than 30 years experience as a planning consultant specializing in land use ordinances and the training of citizen planners.
€ Pat Spoerl, appointed by Councilmember Helen Dankwerth, Land Conservation Committee member and member of the previous General Plan Steering Committee
€ Carl Boswell, appointed by Councilmember Barry Gillaspie, former president of the Oro Valley Neighborhood Coalition, a group concerned with perserving open space as its goal.
€ Robert Delaney, appointed by Councilmember Terry Parish, active in planning and development in Marana and attends many Oro Valley council meetings.
Nominated but not selected
At its initial session to study a General Plan revisions committee, the Oro Valley council directed staff to ask for suggested appointments from the town's boards and commissions and to advertise for citizen volunteers. The majority of those individuals were not chosen to work on the revisions. Individuals nominated but not chosen were:
€ Don Cox, P&Z Commission
€ Al Kunisch, Development Review Board
€ Bob Evans, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
€ Lyra Done, Budget and Bond Board
€ David Grigsby, Public Art Review Board
€ Thomas Gribbs, volunteer, background in business planning, development
€ Naida Carlson, volunteer, advertising background; served on various condominum association boards.
€ Walter Goodwillie, volunteer, headed an effort opposing rezoning land near Wilson K-8 for high-density housing.
€ Phyllis Boardman, volunteer, nurse, involved with Casitas del Oro Norte HOA.
€ David Bickley, volunteer, sales and marketing; a SCORE counselor.
€ Phillip Davis, volunteer, former small business owner; active in community organizations.
€ Stan Weintraub, volunteer, has served on numerous town boards and committes.