The Oro Valley Town Council directed the town’s staff to look into areas where and how it can expand its Economic Expansion Zone (EEZ) throughout the town.
In late 2012, the town adopted the use the EEZ within Innovation Park with the intent to promote economic development for biotech businesses. The zone where these buildings are located provides a streamlined process for developers where development review and approvals are done administratively.
The intent of these zones is used as an enticement to developers, eliminating a majority of the steps needed in order to build, as long as all of the guidelines are met.
One of the most recent companies to utilize this process was Securaplane Technologies, and Mayor Satish Hiremath said they would like to explore if similar formulas would work in other areas within the town.
“I was looking mostly along the Oracle Road corridor, very similar to what we did to Innovation Park, and then our second umbilical cord to I-10, which is the Tangerine corridor,” Hiremath said. “Those are probably the two areas that I was looking at.”
Councilman Bill Garner agreed but mentioned the he felt the town’s staff could also look into areas that the town has yet to, but plans to, annex along Oracle Road as far south as Orange Grove.
“I was thinking of keeping it open to the whole area that we currently touch, either in future annexations, or are currently within the town’s boundaries,” Garner said.
Staff will look into the possibility to expand similar zones, for example, senior care facilities in one area, and for art studios and galleries in another area.
Paul Oland, who is the senior project manager for The WLB Group, and has spoken before the council numerous times about developments and projects that his company is a part of, asked if the council could direct staff to look into fixing certain areas of the zones that are continuously cumbersome.
“The first has to do with parking requirements,” Oland said to the council, “As you guys all know the town’s parking requirements are exact; Thou shalt have exactly the same spots, if you don’t, then you have to go to the CDRB (Conceptual Design Review Board) with an alternative parking analysis.”
He also spoke about improving the process in which plans are approved.
Gil Alexander, who was on the CDRB when the EEZ was created in 2012, told council he was skeptical of the process that took a portion of the review process away from the CDRB and the public, but felt more comfortable with it the more it was explained to him.
But after seeing the Securaplane building be completed, which is the first to use the EEZ, he is skeptical of the process.
“If you drive along Tangerine, I hate to say it, but I am surprised that our previous Planning and Zoning administrator let it go by. It’s just a plain, old ugly building,” Alexander said.
On another agenda item, the council discussed the possibility of participating in the National League of Cities service line warranty program, which is administered by Utility Service Partners.
The council ultimately decided not to participate because they would have had to surrender the rights to and allow the unconditional use of the town’s seal and logo. In doing so, the insurance company could make its mailers look like the town endorsed the water line warranty.