Town of Oro Valley
Courtesy photo

During the Feb. 5 Oro Valley Town Council meeting, the council approved a measure to move forward with the process to amend the General Plan future land use map to allow the 16-acre Miller Ranch Housing Development to be changed from low-density residential to medium-density residential. 

In the 6-1 council approval, Councilman Joe Hornat voted against the measure that is just one step toward the final approval process. 

The property, which is located on the northwest corner of Tangerine Road and La Cañada Drive, is a 16-acre property flanked by vacant lots to the south and east that are designated for an office park in the current General Plan. To the north and west of the lot are single-family housing on 5-acre lots and 3.3-5-acre lots.

The property is broken up into two portions designated for housing with lot sizes ranging from a minimum of 7,000 square feet to a minimum of 10,000 square feet. The remaining 25 percent of the property is designated for open space.

While anxious to see the property developed, Hornat cited mitigation concerns as his reason for voting against the measure.

 “The road might be an interesting mitigation, but the other houses on the top, I don’t see any mitigation to the property line,” Hornat said. “The fact that nobody lives there isn’t really germane in my mind, it is a property line.”

Hornat was specifically speaking about the northwest section of the property and how it comes up almost to the property line.

“It just doesn’t fit with me to allow this,” he said. “With this density without some substantial mitigation there, and I don’t see it, and I will be a no-vote on this.”

Oro Valley resident Bill Adler said he felt the council disregarded the town’s General Plan and allowing this change would cause properties to be closer to each other.

“This is what happens when you take for granted that the General Plan policies don’t mean anything – they are an option – they are discretionary – they really have no application. We didn’t do this, so here we are,” Adler said. “If you don’t Master Plan when you are supposed to, then you find yourself in a situation where you have to compromise your standards and that’s what we are trying to do here.”

The Principal Planner, Chad Daines, alongside the applicant, Stacey Weaks of Norris Design, plan to approach the council with a proposed housing layout in a future meeting with the housing area at about 2.5 houses per acre, based off the 16-acre property size. 

In other business, Councilman Mike Zinkin used his time during the council reports portion of the meeting to discuss his opinion of the financial issues with the town, including the police department’s overtime compensation.

Zinkin expressed that no department is doing anything illegal, but felt there should be more communication between the council and the town’s departments.

As an example, Zinkin said the council doesn’t know how much a water safety instruction program costs to put on and how many people are benefited by it. He also feels that items such as the cost of the police department’s take-home car program is similar and should be looked at.

“The only way the council can make a policy decision is to have all of those programs identified,” Zinkin said.

While no other council members commented on the issue, Mayor Satish Hiremath reiterated for the record that the statements were only Zinkin’s opinion.

The next Oro Valley Council meeting will be held on Feb. 19.

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