Councilman Joe Hornat

Why is there a General Plan? 

Here is a quick answer from our website: According to the State of Arizona’s Growing Smarter/Plus statutes, every city and county in Arizona is required to adopt and maintain a general plan. 

Now that the “why” is answered, at least as far as statute motive, let’s answer the “what.”

A General Plan is the policy document—the blue print or guideline—for land use and development within a municipality, but it addresses much more than just that. It also includes environmental, social, design, fiscal and economic concerns for the community as a whole. In a nutshell, it concerns itself with everything that our local government is involved with that affects our quality of life now and into the future. Additionally, the General Plan defines the neighboring areas over which the Town wishes to have some sort of influence, including future development and annexation. These areas of influence will ultimately affect the town and its citizens.

Is a General Plan a good idea? I would answer yes. It clarifies expectations so that our elected officials, citizens, town staff, workforce, businesses and developers can make decisions that align with the town’s goals and values. It ensures that we are all on the same page as we move forward, maintaining the quality of life we enjoy and expect.

 What is magic about ratification every 10 years? Nothing except state statute. But statute aside, I would argue that changes can occur within that timeframe which deserve some reflection and evaluation as we plan for the future. Those changes include: “build out” of the community, advancements in technology, consideration of natural resources (such as our water supply), growing transportation needs, environmental policies and concerns, cost of services, population growth, shift in demographics, and the list goes on. We are not a static society.

State statute outlines a few elements to be included, based on population, but the actual process is completely up to the town. We can choose to merely modify the existing plan or rewrite the entire plan from scratch. 

In preparation for this process, a General Plan Scoping Committee, comprising members of the town’s various Boards and Commissions, has determined that a complete re-write is not necessary; instead there will be modifications of appropriate sections of the General Plan to better reflect the changes we have experienced over the past decade. This plan will then be put forth to our voters in 2016 as part of the General Election.

Between now and the 2016 General Election, there will be many opportunities for public input and involvement, and I hope to see many of you engaging in this process. 

Our General Plan is perhaps the biggest statement about who we are and what we value as a community. 

Stay tuned for details. 

(Editor’s Note: Joe Hornat is a member of the Oro Valley Town Council.)

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