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  AGENDA ITEM: 6.       
Meeting Date: 10/03/2017  
Requested by: Bayer Vella
Submitted By: Elisa Hamblin, Community Development & Public Works
Case Number: OV1701076

SUBJECT:
PUBLIC HEARING: DISCUSSION REGARDING THE PROPOSED INNOVATION PARK DRIVE TYPE 1 GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT FROM COMMERCE/OFFICE PARK (COP) TO MEDIUM DENSITY RESIDENTIAL (MDR), LOCATED AT THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF RANCHO VISTOSO BOULEVARD AND VISTOSO COMMERCE LOOP, OV1701076.
RECOMMENDATION:
This meeting is for discussion purposes only and formal action is scheduled for the November 8, 2017 Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting. Staff will be recommending denial of the proposed amendment during the November Commission meeting.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
The purpose of this request is to consider a Type 1 General Plan Amendment application to change the existing land use designation from Commerce / Office Park to Medium Density Residential (MDR) (Attachment 1). The proposed development is approximately 15 acres located at the northwest corner of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and Vistoso Commerce Loop. The approval of this request would allow a residential subdivision with a similar density and design as the single-family neighborhood to the north (Attachment 2).

All General Plan amendment requests are reviewed for conformance with the overall Plan as well as specific amendment criteria. Upon review, staff has found this proposal is not in conformance with the intent of the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan. The proposal would significantly reduce an already limited supply of Commerce / Office Park land in Oro Valley. This type of land is needed to attract employers, business and residents to Oro Valley. Increasing employment opportunities and improving the local economy is a major emphases of the General Plan. For these reasons, staff is not supportive of the proposed amendment.

As a Type 1 General Plan Amendment, two public hearings are required before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The purpose of this first public hearing is to provide information on the amendment and hear residents' and Commissioners' input, issues and concerns. As such, no vote will be taken by the Commission at the meeting on October 3, 2017. A second public hearing will be held on November 8, 2017 where the Commission will again take public testimony, deliberate and formulate a recommendation on the amendment request to Town Council.
BACKGROUND OR DETAILED INFORMATION:
A. EXISTING CONDITIONS AND CONTEXT
Land Use Context
The existing General Plan land use designations for the property and the surrounding areas are provided in Attachment 1. The subject property is currently designated as Commerce / Office Park. Nearby land uses include Commerce / Office Park, Medium Density Residential and Neighborhood Commercial / Office.

Site Conditions
  • 15.23 acres
  • Property is vacant
Property History
  • June 1987: Rancho Vistoso Planned Area Development, Office / Research Park (CPI) Zoning
  • March 2008: Development plan / preliminary plat for "Innovation Commerce Campus" approved by the Town Council
  • April 2009: Final plat for "Innovation Commerce Campus" approved by the Town Council
  • December 2009: One year extension for the development plan / preliminary plat for "Innovation Commerce Campus" denied by the Town Council
  • March 2010: Development plan / preliminary plat approvals for "Innovation Commerce Campus" expired
  • December 2011: General Plan amendment request for High Density Residential denied by the Town Council
Existing General Plan Designation
The existing and proposed general plan designations can be found in Attachment 2. The property is currently designated Commerce/Office Park (COP), provided below:

Commerce/Office Park (COP). This land use designation represents areas where commercial, office and/or light manufacturing is appropriate. These uses generally occur in a business park-type environment with clustered buildings and inward-focused activity. Commerce parks often include a mix of light industrial, professional office, office/showroom, office/warehouse, retail services and related uses.

B. APPLICANT'S REQUEST
Proposed General Plan Designation
The applicant’s requested amendment is to change the current designation to the Medium Density Residential (MDR) land use designation, provided below:

Medium Density Residential (2.1-5.0 homes per acre). This designation represents areas where single-family home, townhouse or patio home development is appropriate. The lot sizes in this land use designation all for setbacks between individual homes (detached) or common walls between individual homes (attached). These areas should be located close to schools, shopping and employment.

C. GENERAL PLAN ANALYSIS
The proposed amendment has been reviewed for conformance with the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan. Staff finds that the proposed Type 1 General Plan Amendment to Medium Density Residential does not conform with the Your Voice Plan. Below is a detailed analysis as well as applicable citations and staff commentary. Responses to the criteria provided by the applicant can be found in Attachment 1. It should be noted that the applicant has provided a number of policies from the Your Voice Plan as support for this proposal. Staff does not agree with the use of these policies as supporting the overall intent of the General Plan, as described in the following section.

1. On balance, the request is consistent with the vision, guiding principles, goals and policies of the General Plan as demonstrated by adherence to all the following criteria.

The Your Voice, Our Future General Plan places a significant emphasis on increasing and not just maintaining employment land. This is a core statement made in the high-level vision and guiding principles and then carried out in the goals, policies and actions. 

The importance of employment land is illustrated in how the current amendment request is processed. Typically, General Plan amendments require the most amount of scrutiny when they are 40 acres or more and are therefore classified as a Type 1. This application, although smaller, is also classified as a Type 1. Community members felt that any reduction of employment land was alarming and required careful analysis and scrutiny. This thinking is also supported by analysis of Oro Valley's existing conditions and other similar communities.
 
Town staff has reviewed the subject property within context of the larger Innovation Park area and the supply of employment land in the Town overall. Oro Valley’s employment land is in short supply as only roughly 2% of land is designated as Commerce / Office Park. Similar communities have between 6 and 15% of their land designated as such. For example, Marana has 10,000 acres of employment land. By contrast, Oro Valley has only 460 acres of Commerce / Office Park land available.

Oro Valley has been successful in attracting employers. Roughly 40% of Innovation Park is either built-out or in the planning stage. Other comparable communities have only 20% of their employment areas built-out. Looking at Oro Valley's historic rate of absorption in Innovation Park and even accounting for the Great Recession, Oro Valley can expect complete build-out of Innovation Park in around 20 years. In short, Oro Valley has less employment land overall than similar communities, a greater share of it has been developed, and build-out is on the horizon.

The Your Voice, Our Future General Plan's Vision and Guiding Principles provide the highest level of guidance from the community and were formed from extensive community engagement. The Vision reads "Oro Valley strives to be a well-managed community that provides all residents with opportunities for quality living. Oro Valley will keep its friendly, small-town, neighborly character, while increasing services, employment and recreation. The Town’s lifestyle continues to be defined by a strong sense of community, a high regard for public safety and an extraordinary natural environment and scenic views [emphasis added]." In addition to the Vision, 1 of the 12 guiding principles is particularly significant to review of this proposal [emphasis added again]:
  • Grow the number of high-quality employment opportunities
    • Health and medical research industries
    • Educational institutions
    • Research/technical parks
    • Visitor and tourist attractions
    • Light industry
    • Professional office complexes
Approval of this proposal would be directly counter to the intent of increasing or growing employment opportunities, specially research/technical parks and light industry, as outlined in the Vision and Guiding Principles.

The Your Voice, Our Future General Plan also includes numerous goals and policies, with applicable ones listed below. In sum, the applicant's request does not conform with the intent of these goals and policies and the overall desire for economic growth in the community.
  • Goal A: Long-term financial and economic stability and sustainability.
  • Goal B: A robust local economy and job market that provide opportunities for quality employment, build on Oro Valley’s assets and encourage high-quality growth.
  • Goal C: A strong sector of targeted industries, including bioscience and aerospace, that provide opportunities for synergy and growth.
  • Policy E.1: Develop a diversified and robust economic base to support long-term economic stability.
  • Policy E.3. Promote Oro Valley as an ideal destination for economic activity, tourism, shopping, cultural attractions, research and development.
The request shall not:
a. Significantly alter existing development character and land use patterns without adequate and appropriate buffers and graduated transitions in density and land use.

The subject property is located adjacent to Commerce / Office Park, Medium Density Residential and Neighborhood Commercial / Office as shown in Attachments 1 and 2. The subject property is located on a corner with the only properties abutting being single-family residential. Commerce / Office Park and Neighborhood Commercial / Office properties are separated by a roadway. Although the proposed amendment would offer consistency with the abutting residential property, it would not necessarily offer a transition to other nearby uses. The proposed amendment may potentially reduce the desirability of future commercial development nearby due to adjacency issues.

b. Impact existing uses with increased infrastructure without appropriate improvements to accommodate planned growth.
There is existing infrastructure to support the proposed residential subdivision. Should the proposed amendment be approved, more detailed analysis will take place during the rezoning process.

c. Impact other public services including police, fire, parks, water and drainage unless careful analysis and explanation of anticipated impacts is provided to the Town for review.
There is sufficient public services and improvements to support the proposed residential development. Should the proposed amendment be approved, more detailed analysis will take place during the rezoning process.

d. Impact the natural beauty and environmental resources without suitable mitigation.
The proposed subdivision will be required to conform with all applicable zoning provisions related to plant mitigation, landscaping and environmental protection.

2. The applicant has implemented effective public outreach efforts to identify neighborhood concerns and has responded by incorporating measures to avoid or minimize development impacts to the extent reasonably possible, as well as to mitigate unavoidable adverse impacts.
Two neighborhood meetings were held on April 27, 2017 and August 14, 2017 with approximately 30 residents at each meeting. The main topics discussed at the meetings included preserving the existing views to the east, building heights, and the overall site design. In response to the neighbors' concerns for view preservation, the applicant has expressed a willingness to limit building heights in certain areas of the site. Should the Commission recommend approval of this amendment, staff would recommend a condition of approval be part of the future rezoning process. This condition could incorporate appropriate buffers and single-story height limits in areas directly adjacent to the Vistoso Vistas subdivision.

3. All non-residential amendment requests will contribute positively to the long-term economic stability of the Town as demonstrated by consistency with goals and policies related to economic development and financial stability.
This criteria is not applicable because the proposed amendment is related to a residential development. However, it is worth noting that retaining the current use on this property would benefit the long term economic viability of the community more than adding a small development of less than 76 homes. Unless a residential development is of substantial size, it will not contribute to the overall wellbeing of existing commercial uses.

D. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
The following public notice has been provided:
  • Notification of all property owners within 1,000 feet
  • Notification to additional interested parties who signed in at neighborhood meetings
  • Homeowners association mailing
  • Advertisement in The Daily Territorial and Arizona Daily Star newspapers
  • Advertisement in the Explorer newspaper
  • Post on property
  • Post at Town Hall and on Town website
  • Outside review agencies
Two neighborhood meetings were held on April 27, 2017 and August 14, 2017 with approximately 30 residents at each meeting. The main topics discussed at the meetings included preserving the existing views to the east, building heights, and the overall site design.

In response to the neighbors' concerns for view preservation, the applicant has expressed a willingness to limit building heights in certain areas of the site. Should the Commission recommend approval of this amendment, staff would recommend condition of approval be included in the future rezoning process.

The proposed amendment was sent to several outside agencies for a 60-day review in accordance with state law. To date, no comments have been received.

A copy of the neighborhood meeting summaries are provided as Attachment 3 and three letters of concern are included in Attachment 4.

E. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATION
In summary, there are a number of key factors regarding the proposed amendment. Those factors include:
  1. The proposal is not in conformance with the intent of the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan and its focus on improving the local economy.
  2. The proposal would significantly reduce an already limited supply of Commerce / Office Park land in Oro Valley. This type of land is needed to attract employers, businesses and residents to Oro Valley and help maintain the community's long-term economic viability.
  3. The proposal would not help with the long-term commercial viability in the area as it would potentially only increase residential units by a small number.
  4. Although the proposal would be compatible with the adjacent residential properties, it is has received mixed support from nearby residents.

Based on the aforementioned factors, staff will be recommending denial of the proposed amendment at the November 8, 2017 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
SUGGESTED MOTION:
The purpose of this first public hearing is to provide information on the proposed amendment and to serve as an opportunity for the public and Planning and Zoning Commissioners to provide input on the proposal and discuss any issues or concerns. As such, no vote will be taken by the Commission during this meeting. A second public hearing will be held on November 8, 2017 where the Commission will again take public testimony, deliberate and provide a recommendation to the Town Council.
Attachments
1_Application Materials
2_Future Land Use Map
3_Neighborhood Meeting Summaries
4 Letters of Concern


    

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