Proposed changes to four Oro Valley volunteer boards, among them the controversial Development Review Board, may go forward.
The extent of those changes remains unclear.
On Sept. 1, the town council unanimously approved a motion to have town staffers analyze and recommend changes and modernizations to four town boards — the development review board, the finance and bond commission, the parks and recreation advisory board, and the art review commission.
The issue came up as part of the ongoing discussion about how to streamline and improve the town's development review process. The goal of those discussions has been to find ways to encourage economic growth.
"It's our obligation to create an effective system that benefits everybody," Mayor Satish Hiremath said.
Hiremath had requested the town suspend the activities of the Oro Valley Development Review Board for an undetermined length of time, during which town officials would work to redefine the board's role.
The mayor's proposal followed on the heels of several town-moderated open houses that parsed details of four DRB reform options.
Hiremath said he sought the suspension of board activities because he sees too many inconsistencies in how they operate.
"The way it exists now, in my opinion, it's very helter skelter," Hiremath said.
Not everyone agreed with the mayor's plan to place the boards on hiatus, with particular concern from advocates for the development review board.
Former DRB chairman Mike Zinkin suggested the move was aimed at retribution.
"There's been a rumor that this is on the agenda for payback," said Zinkin, who lost to Hiremath in the springtime mayor's race.
Hiremath and Councilman Joe Hornat both refuted Zinkin's charge that revenge lie at the heart of the reform proposal.
Zinkin also said the town has fallen down in efforts to train board members of their obligations and what their decisions should reflect.
"Train them, don't get rid of them," Zinkin said.
Oro Valley resident Bill Adler said there is a need for better education and clear definition from the council on what it wants from the boards.
"It sounds like we all agree that we should have advisory boards that give good advice," Adler said. "The problem is we're not getting good advice."
Councilman Barry Gillaspie said the council has the prerogative and obligation to periodically review the town's boards and commissions. In that regard, he acknowledged that the town might have not met its obligations.
"I guess we've lost our connection to our boards and commissions," Gillaspie said.
Town staffers in the coming months plan to review the activities of the boards and make any recommendations for changes for the council to consider.