The Oro Valley Town Council has four general plan amendments still on the docket before the end of the year.

Applicants seek approval to change their properties’ land-use designations to allow for greater development density or to change from residential to commercial uses.

The largest and potentially most significant of the four involves the area north of Oro Valley called Arroyo Grande, a 14-square-mile parcel owned by the Arizona State Land Department.

The town and state land department have discussed the possibility of annexing the area into Oro Valley. But before that can happen, the general plan amendment would have to meet with town council approval.

Still, town and state officials have been busy working on a conceptual plan for the future development of Arroyo Grande.

That plan identifies seven specific land-use categories for the area: rural low-density residential; master-planned community; community commercial; office park; resort; open space; and village center.

The village center designation would be an addition to town zoning codes. Town zoning and state land department officials intend for it to be a mixed commercial and residential area, similar to a major city’s downtown.

Also significant is the amount of open space the state land department has been willing to concede — 68 percent or 5,545 acres.

The bulk of the open space would run along the southern edge of Arroyo Grande. That area would remain free from development as a wildlife linkage connecting the Tortolita and Santa Catalina mountain ranges.

Arroyo Grande is home to at least four identified threatened of endangered wildlife species — Arizona metalmark, Rufous-winged sparrow, giant spotted whiptail and Sonoran Desert tortoise.

The conceptual plan shows the area, as planned, could hold an estimated 15,923 houses and 38,215 people.

The potential for a population boom has some worried about increased traffic and water usage.

Another significant proposed general plan amendment has been requested by Vistoso Partners, owners of Stone Canyon, a housing development in Rancho Vistoso.

The applicants have asked the town to change the land-use designation for an undeveloped portion of the gated community.

The change would allow Vistoso Partners to build roughly one house per acre throughout the 127-acre neighborhood.

The current designation for the area stands at about one house per three acres.

Some residents have expressed concerns about the proposed changes because of where the houses could be built.

At public hearings, residents of La Cholla Airpark have said the new houses would likely bring complaints about aircraft noise coming from the small airport.

Also, houses in the proposed development area would likely sit in the airpark’s flight path.

Vistoso Partners has addressed some of the concerns and plans to work with residents on a solution.

Another issue involves the existence of a town-owned trailhead adjacent to the proposed development area.

Vistoso Partners donated the two-acre plot to the town in 2002 in exchange for a previous general plan amendment for another portion of Stone Canyon.

The developer has also given a trail easement to connect the trailhead to Tortolita Mountain Park, a county-held preserve to the north.

But because of the trailhead’s location, surrounded by private property with no access roads, the trail has never been completed and only area residents can get to it.

No agreement has been met between the town and developer about how to resolve the outstanding issue.

Two other proposals before the council include:

• A request by Skyline Ridge, L.L.C. to change a 4.7-acre parcel near Oracle and Hardy roads from low density residential to neighborhood commercial.

• A second request from Vistoso Partners to change land use designations in a 364-acre section of Rancho Vistoso. The several proposed changes to Rancho Vistoso Neighborhood 5 include increasing the acreage dedicated to high-density residential development, increasing open space, and eliminating areas designated for a park and golf course.

The town council plans to discuss and possibly vote on these amendments at the Nov. 19 regular session.

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