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Few show for GP forums

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Posted: Tuesday, March 9, 2004 12:00 am | Updated: 7:48 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Three poorly attended Oro Valley forums held last week to generate discussion on the failed General Plan echoed the same persistent criticisms of town government voiced since 60 percent of voters rejected the plan last November.

"The plan was miserably presented," said Sun City resident Brainard Platt at a Feb. 24 afternoon session there. "The opponents did a good job of presenting reasons to vote it down."

Others agreed, citing inadequate rationale given for the land use map, little attention to anticipated land uses, giveaways to developers, "enormous infrastructures costs" of annexation, scant attention paid to preserving the natural environment and ambiguous, "watered down" language.

"The language of the plan (before it went to council) was much tougher, without so many loopholes or opportunities for interpretation," said Alan Dankwerth, a member of the General Plan Steering Committee and the husband of council candidate Helen Dankwerth.

"We spent 18 months of our lives with this thing."

Another steering committee member, Sun City resident Chuck Walton, said, "The plan that went to voters was not the plan that went to council. wMandatory items were watered down substantially and there was no feedback from the time (we were) discharged and the plan was modified."

Peggy O'Sullivan, of the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs, hired by the town to facilitate the three forums, said that most of the forum attendees were opposed to the plan.

"There were real concerns about growth, the future, density and the economic aspects of growth," she said. "But also a deep love and commitment to the community, and a real concern to preserve and protect the special character that the town has. They know that the plan is a very important policy document to guide future growth and development. And there's a lot of fear about whether it will provide adequate structure for that."

Thirty-eight people attended the Sun City forum; less than 20 attended each of the other two forums at the Church of the Nazarene Feb. 23 and the Oro Valley Town Hall Feb. 24. The forums were part of a three-pronged effort to solicit citizen input on the failed plan.

The first prong was a survey of 400 residents requiring more than 3,000 phone calls in early February; the third was a Web site version of the survey posted at the town's Web site, which received 42 responses.

Mayor Paul Loomis said he didn't want to comment on the process until all the results were in.

O'Sullivan will give her report to the town's planning administrator over the next week.

Survey results, forum comments and Web site responses will be brought to the town council for review March 17.

The cost for the survey and public forums is estimated at $14,000.

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