Town could change review of development projects - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Town could change review of development projects

Proposal could limit, eliminate citizen board in OV

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Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:12 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

The community discussion about the future of Oro Valley's Development Review Board continued last week.

Town officials have held several open houses to inform the public of the options to be considered by the town council for reforms to the Development Review Board. The resident-led board approves architectural and design elements for building projects.

The proposed changes, designed to trim time from the development process in Oro Valley, vary from keeping the status quo to eliminating the board and transferring its duties to town staffers.

The changes proposed have raised some concerns among residents who aren't convinced the changes are needed.

"I'm just terribly concerned with what will happen," said Mike Zinkin, a former DRB member who ran for mayor earlier this year.

Zinkin said he thinks the elimination or minimization of the board would result in less transparency in the development process in Oro Valley, and potentially subject town employees to greater political pressure to grant approvals.

Oro Valley resident Bill Adler said he doesn't see transparency as a problem, even if the council adopts changes that would eliminate the board.

"Eliminating the DRB does not eliminate transparency because all the decisions are made publicly," Adler said.

His concerns focus on what he thinks is a lack of understanding on the part of board members about the mission of the DRB.

Town code lays down 14 specific criteria for board members to use when reviewing development proposals.

Adler said that, too often, board members let their personal preferences and emotional responses to proposals override the mission of making sure projects meet specific guidelines set in town code and in the general plan.

"Otherwise it becomes totally a matter of opinion," Adler said.

The three possible reforms outlined in the proposal vary from limiting the board to reviews of architectural designs, to disbanding the body and putting its duties on town planning and zoning employees.

If the board were disbanded, under one option, town staff would make recommendations to the council for final approval.

The final option has town zoning employees assuming control over the entire development approval process, including development plans, preliminary plats, landscape plans, parking analysis, architecture, signage, grading exceptions, communications facilities and time extensions.

Under all the proposals, the town council would have final say over development approvals.

Town leaders have estimated the reforms could trim as much as 11 weeks from the development process, according to town documents.

The town could make a decision on the board's future at the Sept. 1 town council meeting, when the item is scheduled for consideration.

The proposals

Option A

No changes

Option B

Development Review Board renamed Design Review Board

Town staffers would assume some of the board's responsibilities

4 to 6 weeks time savings

Option C

Development Review Board eliminated

Town staffers assume all DRB responsibilities

4 to 6 weeks time savings

Option D

Development Review Board eliminated

Town staffers assume all duties and those not required by law for council to conduct

4 to 11 weeks time savings

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