Oct. 13, 2004 - After speaking out repeatedly over a development proposal in the area of North Oracle Road and El Conquistador Way, neighbors got what they wanted from the Oro Valley Town Council - an outright denial of the plans.
The council voted to deny a rezoning of a two and a half acre parcel at the northwest corner of Oracle Road and El Conquistador Way from an R-6 residential designation to a C-2 commercial designation because of the developers intent to place a restaurant on the property. The project had been under review by the town for four years and included offices, a restaurant and a beauty salon.
About a dozen residents attended the meeting to see if the issue would pass. Many of them live in the nearby houses in the subdivisions of Valle del Oro and The Colony and have expressed concerns about excess light and noise problems they say would be caused by having a restaurant, and the traffic it brings with it, on the property.
The developer, represented by David Williams, a Tucson-area planner, presented the plan, outlining a number of changes that have been made to address concerns.
The developer had moved parking spaces, added valet parking restrictions in lots near the homes after 7 p.m., agreed not to serve alcohol or have entertainment at the restaurant and reduced the size of the restaurant, agreeing to a cafe-type use. The developers also set the building as close to Oracle Road as they say they could, leaving nearly 300 feet between the building and any home and including berms, shrubs and walls that would protect neighbors from disruptions.
Concerns also were expressed about food smells wafting into nearby areas, and the developer had agreed to place scrubbers on any grease hoods at the proposed establishment. Williams told the council the owners had something in mind such as Tucson's Something Sweet, that would serve breakfast and lunch to office workers and nearby residents and at night could be a coffee and dessert place, with board games, internet access and other activities that might make it a gathering place for the community.
However, this was not acceptable to many of the residents who objected to any such development. Eight nearby residents filed official letters of protest in regards to the plans.
Councilmember Terry Parish moved to deny the rezoning, saying that although he "would love a place like this in my neighborhood," in rezoning cases "the only entitlements that exist are those of the people living in those neighborhoods." Because the neighbors objected, the council voted 5 to 2 to deny the request, with Mayor Paul Loomis and Councilmember Gillaspie opposed.
Councilmember Helen Dankwerth objected, because she said the property is not big enough for what is being proposed.
Gillaspie said he felt the town and the residents were "better off with high-quality development like this," than other residential uses that might be proposed for the property.
He pointed out that to not allow this rezoning would leave the property with its R-6 designation which would still allow for the office building space, but also would allow for town homes or apartment buildings to be built.
In an interview following the meeting, Williams said the owner "always felt it was a 50-50 chance" the rezoning would pass through council. He said after recent meetings with the neighbors, he thought the chance might be better.
"It's always a challenge to do rezoning in Oro Valley," he said, adding that the property owners, Kenneth and Anne Copper, are "frustrated" by the denial and are hoping to file plans to build offices and apartments at the site "as soon as possible."
"They're ready to develop," Williams said. "They want to get the project going and move ahead as quickly as possible."
Also during the meeting
At its Oct. 6 regular meeting, the Oro Valley Town Council:
€ Unanimously approved continuing a rezoning hearing for the area where Steam Pump Ranch is located until the first meeting in January to give the developer and the town more time to develop a proposal for development of the site. The site was included in last year's Pima County bond issue for historical preservation.
€ Unanimously approved a preliminary plat in Rancho Vistoso for 216 single-family homes. The item previously had been continued in order to look at the location of the homes in relationship to the adjacent La Cholla Airpark. The developer agreed to include wording in documents such as the tract declaration telling potential buyers of proximity to the private facility.
€ Unanimously appointed Town Prosecutor Tobin Sidles as acting town attorney to fill the space of Mark Langlitz, who resigned to join the county attorney's office, until the position can be filled.
€ Unanimously OK'd a liquor license for Glenn O'Leary for use at La Madrina Pizzeria on North Oracle Road.