Councilman Joe Hornat

The Town of Oro Valley is considering an overlay district for parts of Innovation Park, on the northwest corner of Oracle and Tangerine roads, in the heart of our bioscience corridor.

For those unfamiliar with what an overlay district is, it is really quite simple. The “rules” in the overlay district are different than the current rules.

Through the proposed overlay district we are trying to shorten the approval time frame for construction as an incentive to developers. If time is money, then the less time spent in the approval process, the less money spent. That is a very attractive incentive for a prospective company. The catchy acronym “EEZ-IPOD” (Economic Expansion Zone-Innovation Park Overlay District) is being used as the designation for this potential change. I have no idea who thinks up these terms, but this one seems descriptive as to intent and location.

It is important to note that these changes would affect only the approval process and project timeline; they would not change the zoning codes.

The current approval process for Oro Valley requires that for each new commercial building, there are three distinct meetings prior to any construction start or permitting: a neighborhood meeting, Conceptual Design Review Board and final Council meeting for an approval or denial. The meeting process can take from three to six months.

The overlay district for parts of Innovation Park, as proposed, will eliminate the need for these three meetings and transfer the review process to the Town’s Development and Infrastructure Services (DIS) staff.

At first glance, it may appear as though we are giving up on the Council-championed public input portion of the project design process. But a second glance reveals that the previously-adopted design standards would still be applicable. The standards, which were developed through the rigorous three-step public input process, include example photos and details of acceptable color palettes, as well as roof and horizontal articulations. In actuality, we haven’t given up anything. The proposed new overlay just requires the DIS staff to apply the already-adopted public process design standards (code) to any new construction that is brought to them by developers.

Under the proposed overlay district:

No change of zoning is allowed on any part of the overlay.

No change in building height is allowed.

No change in use is allowed.

No construction within 600 feet of a residential area.

Any project requesting the above items would be rerouted to the three-step, three- to six-month process, with no guarantee of approval.

What have we said “NO” to, as the title implies? Simple again: “NO” need for three additional process approvals, if you meet the design standards and zoning already approved by the public process.

As part of the public review of this potential change, a neighborhood meeting will be held on Wednesday August 29, 6 – 7:30 p.m. in the Ventana-Roche cafeteria, 1910 East Innovation Park Drive. An overview and timeline of the project will be provided and attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the proposal, provide feedback and ask questions. Please check in at the front reception to obtain a visitors pass.

If you have any additional questions about the proposed Economic Expansion Zone – Innovation Park Overlay District, please contact Oro Valley Senior Planner Matt Michels at or 229-4822.

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