Oro Valley is in negotiations for several pieces of property along a narrow strip of land fronting Oracle Road at the northwest corner of Calle Concordia, potentially the new home of the town's factious public works yard.
Realtor John Georgelos, who represents the two property owners, said the town has made an offer, but couldn't say more because negotiations are in progress. "We are now in the middle of negotiations with Oro Valley," he said. "The town is interested in a couple of these properties."
Town Attorney Mark Langlitz confirmed that the town has made an offer on the site to house its public works yard, but declined to comment further.
The town went to court in early April because of a lawsuit filed by Celta and Stephen Sheppard and a group of neighbors fed up with what they said is noise, dust and diesel odors from heavy equipment traffic in and out of the current public works yard at 680 W. Calle Concordia. A decision on that case is still pending.
"The intelligence of moving the site to that location is rather lacking. It just seems like poor judgment once again," Celta Sheppard said. "There's a lot of activity at the yard today. Knowing not only how it is now, but how it's going to grow in 10 or 20 years… The enjoyment of the park - it's going to completely take that away. And then there's the school. It doesn't make sense around so many children."
Amphitheater Public Schools Associate Superintendent Todd Jaeger said he wasn't overly concerned about the new yard going in so close to Canyon Del Oro High School. "We've been in communication with the town and we're confident that if they do obtain the property, they'll work with us on traffic and safety concerns," he said. "Presently, we have every reason to believe that they'll be good neighbors."
On April 7, Town Manager Chuck Sweet said in Pima County Superior Court that the town was negotiating for a new site of about 14 acres, but that he was not at liberty to reveal the location. He told the judge that the town will "likely" use its power of eminent domain to condemn the property if the parties cannot come to terms.
Located next to James D. Kriegh Park and farther west, CDO High School, the 5.8- and 8.9-acre parcels of undisturbed desert are zoned suburban ranch or R1-144.
Access is from Egleston Drive, a street that starts at Linda Vista Boulevard to the north and dead ends at the dog park north of the park.
For property tax purposes, the two parcels are valued at $144,750 and $201,600 respectively, according to Pima County assessor records.
But the assessed value represents only a percentage of the fair market value - from 74 to 92 percent - based on the property's current use, said Bill Staples, senior appraiser for Pima County. Its actual worth may be much higher.
"To consider that frontage on Oracle Road with a signalized intersection is going to be developed at low density takes a stretch of the imagination," he said.
If the matter were to go to condemnation, the court would look at the "highest and best use" for the property - typically a higher market value based on the potential for rezoning to a higher density or commercial designation.
"The town would come in with recent sales of suburban ranch properties at major arterials. The landowners would have to come in with examples of property sold subject to rezoning, which increases value," he said. "Hopefully, they could come to an agreement somewhere in the middle."
Jim Secan, whose family owns a 12-acre parcel just north of the properties said the threat of a public works yard next door has already impacted the value of their land.
"We had an offer - they talked to Oro Valley and suddenly they went away," he said. He believes his family's Oracle frontage property is worth about $2 million. "We know of properties that have been selling for that."