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In a 4-3 vote, the Oro Valley Town Council denied a second effort to rezone the Kai-Capri area from commercial to residential, despite updated plans to limit housing density and community support for the project during their Tuesday, Feb. 2 meeting. 

While four council members voted in favor of amending the General Plan for the Kai-Capri Special Area Policies to allow 144 casita rental properties on land bordering Kai Drive, near First Avenue and Tangerine Road, the amendment required two-fifths majority, or five votes, in favor to be approved. 

Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett, along with council members Tim Bohen and Josh Nicolson, voted against the zoning change, as they did during the Jan. 6 council meeting when developers presented a larger residential plan for the intersection. During that meeting, council member Joyce Jones-Ivy also voted against the proposed rezoning. However, the density, the other was because of apartments and the last was looking at this as a commercial property,” Jones-Ivy said. “I’m glad to hear what I’m hearing this evening and I think it’s something that can truly benefit our community.”

Barrett, who has led the charge against the proposed rezoning change, said the amendment was unnecessary since other residential developments, like senior living community Nakoma Sky would soon be adding 100 new units to the area. Kai and Oland’s proposed plan of 144 rental casitas was expected to house the town’s working community and near-by medical staff.  

The vice mayor said she would like to allow recently approved expanded commercial code changes to come to fruition before making more changes to an area that was only zoned six years ago. She also said the council shouldn’t be quick to make moves regarding the town’s economic direction during the pandemic. 

“I just feel these code changes haven’t had an opportunity to bear fruit yet and we just passed them six months ago. It’s hard to see what things are going to look like at the end of the pandemic, in terms of office use and employment uses,” Barrett said. “But I am loath to take one of our truly vacant corners and convert it to residential use when it could potentially be used as overflow for primary employment uses.”

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