Town leaders are scheduled to rule on four amendments to the Oro Valley General Plan on Wednesday, Nov. 19.
The smallest of those planned changes involves allowing commercial development on a vacant residential property on Oracle.
A more extensive amendment entails making a series of changes to the 14-square mile Arroyo Grande area north of the town.
While modification to the general plan can lead to significant changes to the character of the town, the amendments themselves do not implicitly grant property owners the right to develop properties.
Any building plans still would have to pass all of the town’s normal development review and zoning processes before construction could begin.
State law requires that towns and cities have general plans and lays out the rules for making changes to the documents.
Perhaps the most anticipated general plan amendment is the Arroyo Grande project.
Town and Arizona State Land Department officials have worked together on this project for two years and if approved it could pave the way for annexation of the 14-square mile state holding.
Two issues have stood out throughout the planning process: 1) How to define open space in Arroyo Grande; and, 2) How to accommodate a wildlife corridor that runs through the heart of the property.
When the discussion began about the general plan amendment and possible annexation of Arroyo Grande, the state land department planned to keep 68 percent of the area open space. However, state officials’ plans lacked a clear definition of the term.
Their initial proposal would have permitted residential development in areas labeled, at least on planning maps, as open space.
The state’s first plan also did not recognize the wildlife corridor that runs east and west through Arroyo Grande that connects the Santa Catalina with the Tortolita mountains.
Through discussions with town planners and the public, the state land department altered its land use map to not permit building in areas labeled open space and to include as open space a kilometer-wide strip along the entire southern edge of the property. That area has been recognized as an important wildlife crossing.
The town has also decided to implement special-area policies for all of Arroyo Grande.
The policies essentially add development conditions to the property beyond what the town already requires.
In part, those conditions are intended to defray the anticipated costs of infrastructure future development of the area would require. In addition, the policy would require that developers pay for traffic and water analyses in Arroyo Grande as part of their development plans.
According to town and state population estimates, the Arroyo Grande area, once fully developed, could contain as many as 16,000 houses and be home to 38,000 people.
Another general plan amendment applicant requests the town change the land use designation of a 4.7-acre parcel at Hardy and Oracle roads.
Skyline Ridge L.L.C. has asked the town to change the area from residential to commercial. The company plans to build a hotel at the site.
The town planning and zoning commission recommended the town council approve the plan with conditions. One condition would be to have an environmental assessment conducted on the property.
Neighbors have also expressed concerns with the proposal.
The council plans to consider the amendments at Wednesday’s meeting. Council members could make a decision on the requests or postpone the vote to another date.