In a unanimous vote on Wednesday, the Oro Valley Town Council made official the annexation of 107 acres in the northwest area of Ina and Oracle roads. The three-year process came to a close earlier this month after the town secured more than the required support of 50 percent of the area property owners, representing more than 50 percent of the assessed property valuation.
Tohono Chul Park, one of the properties to sign the annexation petition, underwent a pre-annexation agreement that establishes the legal rights between the town and park for future development. In that agreement, the town will be responsible for road repair along Northern Avenue, one of the major points of entry to the park.
“The agreement states that within the first year after the annexation, we will complete some basic repairs to the roadway, and within three years after annexation, we will fully repair that roadway to town standards and accept that as a town road we would then maintain afterwards,” said Assistant to the Town Manager Kevin Burke.
The town and park also agreed to continue cooperative marketing efforts to drive people to Tohono Chul Park, which is known for its historical and cultural elements.
In an effort to drive more tourism to the arguably disguised location, representatives from Tohono Chul requested in the agreement that banner signs be allowed along Ina Road and Paseo Del Norte. Ten banner signs in total were requested - six along Ina Road and four along Paseo Del Norte.
The signs would measure six square feet, and would be placed on 20-foot-high poles.
Councilman Mike Zinkin showed concerns over aesthetics since the banner poles would supplement existing power poles.
“I’m wondering if six (on Ina) isn’t overkill,” said Zinkin. “Can we do the same with a less amount of signs? We just paid two million to keep (power) poles off Oracle. Do we want to put six poles within two-tenths of a mile on Ina?”
Town resident Gil Alexander echoed that argument, requesting that the banner signs be placed on the power poles themselves to eliminate excess infrastructure.
Tohono Chul representative Mark Rossi defended the number of poles requested.
“We think 10 is an appropriate number that gives us the flexibility we need. This is consistent with what other facilities like this do,” said Rossi, citing the Town of Marana’s practices.
In regards to placing the banners on the power poles, Rossi said despite efforts, no agreement could be reached with Tucson Electric Power to do so.
Lou Waters defended the banners on the basis the park sometimes goes unnoticed by passersby.
“I’ve given directions to people and they’ve driven right past it,” said Waters. “These (festival banners) are as important to the package as anything I can imagine.”
Council would eventually vote unanimously on allowing a maximum of 10 banners.
In other news, council approved a conditional use permit for a memory care facility at the southwest corner of Oracle and Desert Sky roads.
Planning Division Manager David Williams said because memory care is not a defined term in the town’s code, the most similar code designation of skilled nursing is being applied.
Resident Bill Adler has been the most outspoken advocate against granting the conditional use permit under such circumstances.
“We need to repair our reputation as a professional operation in regards to land use,” said Adler. “I’m more concerned about that part of it so that we are perceived by applicants and people looking for uses in Oro Valley, when they read the code and talk to staff, they are talking to people who know this industry fully.”
Given the proximity to Oracle Road, resident John Musolf requested an alarm be linked to the Oro Valley Police Department to help prevent injury, though it was later recognized by staff that such automated links are currently prohibited by town code.
Council voted unanimously to issue the permit.