Town Council Regular Session


Print

Return to the Search Page Return to the Agenda
  Item # 1.       
Meeting Date: 09/16/2020  
Requested by: Bayer Vella
Submitted By: Milini Simms, Community and Economic Development
Case Number: 1902616

SUBJECT:
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION REGARDING A PROPOSED ZONING CODE AMENDMENT TO THE ECONOMIC EXPANSION ZONE

A. RESOLUTION NO. (R)20-47, DECLARING THE PROPOSED ZONING CODE AMENDMENTS TO SECTION 22.10, SECTION 24.9, SECTION 27.9 AND OTHER ASSOCIATED SECTIONS OF THE ZONING CODE RELATED TO THE ECONOMIC EXPANSION ZONE IN ATTACHMENT 1 AND FILED WITH THE TOWN CLERK, A PUBLIC RECORD

B. PUBLIC HEARING: ORDINANCE NO. (O)20-05, AMENDMENTS TO SECTION 22.10, SECTION 24.9, SECTION 27.9 AND OTHER ASSOCIATED SECTIONS OF THE ORO VALLEY ZONING CODE
RECOMMENDATION:
Item A is an administrative function only. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of Item B. 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
Item A (Attachment 1) is solely an administrative function declaring the proposed code amendment a public record.

Item B (Attachment 2) is a proposed code amendment to the Economic Expansion Zone (see image to the right, Attachment 3). This item was discussed by the Town Council on January 8, 2020 (see Attachment 4 for staff report and minutes), February 5, 2020 (see Attachment 5 for staff report and minutes) and July 15, 2020 (see Attachment 6 for staff report and draft minutes). It was considered on September 2, 2020 and continued for discussion and possible action to September 16, 2020. 

The information included in this report was previously presented to Town Council on September 2 to address the following inquiries and concerns. No changes have been made since September 2.

1. Potential for proliferation and appearance of pre-graded sites. As presented on September 2, the following changes were made to the proposed code amendment:
  • Criteria have been added to further regulate the amount of pre-grading. The criteria provide the ability to review the viability of development and potential visual impacts on a case-by-case basis. Specifically, the applicant must demonstrate the following:
    • Evidence (such as leads or contracts) of their ability to develop the site within 5 years. After 10 years, the site must be re-vegetated unless an extension is granted by the Planning and Zoning Administrator.
    • Verification by a required visual analysis to establish there will not be a materially detrimental visual impact to adjacent residential properties or public roadways. The Planning and Zoning Administrator has the discretion to apply conditions to minimize view impacts. This enables a potential to increase buffer yards, vegetation, etc. on a case-by-case basis. 
  • To improve the appearance of pre-graded sites, the proposed amendment now requires decomposed granite (gravel typically seen in parking islands and residential yards), to match natural desert earth tones as the ground cover (see Attachment 7 for example). This is in addition to the required buffer yards (ranging from 25'-150') and landscaping previously discussed during Town Council meetings. 
  • To further illustrate the appearance of pre-graded sites, a visual analysis (photos and renderings) was conducted to evaluate views along roadways and nearby residential areas. Key findings include: 
    • The site closest to a residential area will not be viewable by surrounding homes. All homes abutting and adjacent to the property (along the west side) are single-story. Windows and views of the site are blocked by existing neighborhood screen walls. 
    • Sites along Oracle Road are not visible due to existing vegetation, hillsides, buffer yard and open space requirements. Specifically, sites must maintain a 100' buffer along the roadway (per the Oracle Road Scenic Corridor Standards and Rancho Vistoso Planned Area Development).
    • Out of the sites that could be pre-graded (vacant sites without previously approved development plans), 4 areas are visible from roadways or existing homes. The homes are located across Big Wash, which is roughly 12 football fields away from the visible area (see Attachment 8). Mitigation measures significantly reduce impacts of all the sites as indicated on the visual analysis.
2. Need and benefit of allowing pre-grading
  • The absorption rate of Tech Park zoned land has historically been very low in Oro Valley. As such, there is ample evidence that the Town needs to improve its approach in order to attract employers. In addition to the recently approved targeted incentives, these code amendments are a critical step forward.
  • The Town foregoes consideration by 2-5 major employer leads a month due to the lack of "ready to build" sites.
  • Site selectors require and locate clients in areas that will allow them to construct and occupy a custom-building within 12 months. Currently, the Town cannot meet this requirement due to the lack of available "ready to build" sites.
    • Oro Valley's current EEZ process requires a minimum of 16 months (from concept to occupancy). Due to the time and cost, a property owner is not likely to go through the current process to create a "ready-to-build" site.
    • Pre-grading allows site work to be completed within 3 months. This will likely be completed by the owner rather than the employment use, which would save them time and allow occupancy of a custom-building within 12 months (see Attachment 9 for more information). 
  • According to Sun Corridor, several advanced tech/HQ businesses have recently located in the Tucson region. Some of which, considered but passed on locating in Oro Valley. Historically, the lack of employment development has led to property owners seeking to convert their tech-park zoned property to residential or developing uses such as senior care facilities.
3. Applicability of pre-grading.
  • As discussed, the proposed code amendment limits the locations for plant removal before site plan approval to only developable EEZ areas. Additionally, pre-grading only applies to vacant sites without previously approved development plans. Out of the 111 EEZ parcels, 58 parcels are developed or have approved plans.
  • Although there are some vacant building pads they are all very small and located in Innovation Corporate Center or the Commerce Center along Oracle. As such, pre-grading would only be applicable to 28 parcels (see Attachment 10).
4. Existing process to appeal administrative decisions.
  • All administrative decisions, including site plan approvals and permit issuance, may be appealed to the Board of Adjustment within 30 days of the approval by an aggrieved person. 
  • An aggrieved person does not have to abut the property but must show the administrative decision caused material harm as part of an appeal application.
For specific details about the proposed code amendment, please see the previous staff reports (Attachment 4-6). In response to Town Council's inquiries and concerns, updates to the proposed code amendment were presented on September 2. No further updates or changes are included in this report. 

In conclusion, the Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the proposed code amendment on November 5,2019 (see Attachment 11 for staff report and minutes) and recommended approval on December 3, 2019 (see Attachment 12 and for staff report and minutes). 
BACKGROUND OR DETAILED INFORMATION:
The purpose of the proposed code amendment (Attachment 2) is to attract and retain employment uses while adding impactful safeguards to protect residents. The proposed code amendment includes the following:
  • Limits the locations for plant removal before site plan approval to only developable EEZ areas (currently allowed on all vacant sites in Oro Valley) and adding restrictions to further reduce visibility of pre-graded sites from surrounding residents and the public.
  • Requires more public outreach for EEZ sites closest to residential areas.
  • Clarifies zoning regulations by allowing a code compliant sign criteria to be administratively approved.
  • Increases predictability by removing the 20-day Town Council review period while maintaining the existing appeal process 
These items were discussed by Town Council on January 8, 2020, (for staff report and minutes, see Attachment 4), February 5, 2020 (see Attachment 5) and July 15, 2020 (see Attachment 6).  They were considered on September 2, 2020 and continued for discussion and possible action to September 16, 2020. No changes have been made since September 2. 

The information included in this report was previously presented to Town Council on September 2 to address the following inquiries and concerns: 
  1. Potential for proliferation and appearance of pre-graded sites
  2. Need and benefit of pre-grading
  3. Applicability of pre-grading
  4. Existing process to appeal administrative decisions
DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS:
1. Potential for proliferation and appearance of pre-graded sites.

During the July 15 public hearing, the Town Council had concerns regarding the sudden proliferation of pre-graded sites. Specifically with regard to the ability to develop pre-graded sites in a timely manner and the appearance/visibility of pre-graded sites. In response to these concerns, the following updates to the proposed code amendment and information (visual analysis) were presented to Town Council on September 2. 
  • Criteria have been added to evaluate the viability and view impacts of each site on a case-by-case basis. Applicant's must demonstrate the following, prior to permit issuance:
    • Ability to develop the site within 5 years after permit issuance. Evidence, such as leads, contracts or other documentation must be provided and approved by the Planning and Zoning Administrator.
    • If undeveloped after 10 years, the site must be re-vegetated (not restored) unless an extension has been approved by the Planning and Zoning Administrator. Extensions may only be granted in 2 year increments provided proof of pending development. 
    • Verification there will not be a materially detrimental visual impact to adjacent properties used or intended for residential purposes and public roadways. A visual analysis must be provided for the Town to evaluate potential view impacts. The Planning and Zoning Administrator also has the discretion to apply conditions to minimize view impacts. These conditions include, but are not limited to, expanding the width of a buffer yard, increasing the amount of plants or extent of ground cover, or stipulating the types of trees planted to naturally screen the site. 
  • Per code, a ground cover is required on all graded sites for dust control and stabilization. Methods range from hydro-seeding, decomposed granite to clear coating. To eliminate ambiguity of the appearance of pre-graded sites, the code now requires decomposed granite (gravel typically used in parking islands or front yards) matching the existing desert earth tones as the ground cover for pre-graded sites. An example of a recently graded site with decomposed granite is included in Attachment 7. This is in addition to the required buffer yards (ranging from 25'-150') and landscaping previously discussed during Town Council meetings. 
  • To further illustrate the appearance of pre-graded sites, a visual analysis has been conducted. The analysis includes photos of sites with little to no visibility (due to existing walls, topography, etc.) and renderings of sites most visible to nearby residents and from roadways (see Attachment 8). The renderings depict the required buffer yards and decomposed granite ground cover. Key findings include:
    • The site closest to residential (within 150') will not be viewable by nearby homes. The homes abutting and adjacent to the property are all single-story. Windows and views are blocked by existing screen walls. Additionally, a 150' undisturbed space must remain between the homes and pre-graded area on the site.
    • Sites along Oracle Road are naturally screened by steep slopes or existing dense vegetation. A 100' buffer yard is required along the roadway.
    • Out of the 25 parcels that could be pre-graded, 4 areas are visible from roadways and existing homes.Visible sites are along the edges of Innovation Park and can be seen from Tangerine Road, Rancho Vistoso Blvd. and subdivision homes located across Big Wash (roughly 12 football fields away).
  • As previously stated, a visual analysis is now required for all applicants seeking to pre-grade a site to evaluate view impacts on a case-by-case basis (unless deemed unnecessary due to character of the site, terrain or location). 
2. The need and benefit of pre-graded sites.
The Town Council discussed the need and benefit of pre-grading in relation to the current review and permitting process. The absorption rate of Tech Park zoned has historically been low in Oro Valley. As such, there is ample evidence that the Town needs to improve its approach in order to attract employers. In addition to quality of life (schools, safety, entertainment) factors and targeted incentives, such as the ones recently approved by Council, the availability of "ready to build" sites is a major factor consideration of site selectors.

The Town foregoes consideration by 2-5 major employer leads a month because site selectors locate clients in cities that will allow them to construct and occupy a custom-building within 12 months. Currently, the Town cannot meet this requirement due to the lack of available "ready-to-build" sites (see Attachment 9).

Within the current process, it could take a minimum of 16 months to occupy a custom-building. This timeframe is based on the following:
  • Site plan approval and work: Minimum of 6 months but typically 9 months
    • As discussed, it takes a minimum of 4-6 months to acquire plan approval, prior to doing any site work. This timeframe is driven by the applicant and does not account for their time to draft or revise plans. Looting at recent approvals in Innovation Park (Tucson Orthopedic, a shell building and Securaplane), it took an average of 7 months to acquire site and grading plan approval.
    • Site work: Typically, it takes roughly 2 months to clear and grade a site. This timeframe is dependent on the size and complexity of the site. 
  • Building plan approval and construction: Approximately 10 months, depending on size and complexity of the building.
Due to the time and cost required to acquire approval in the current process, a property owner will not pursue creating a "ready-to build" site. Allowing pre-grading on a limited amount of sites (see section 3 below) in Oro Valley, gives the Town a better opportunity to compete with other cities and even be considered by employment users. Based on the following timeframes, an employer could realistically occupy a custom-building within 12 months.
  • Pre-grading: 3-4 months. Unlike the current process, this will generally be processed and completed by the property owner to create a "ready-to build"site. As such, the employment use may skip this part of the process and begin at the next step.
    • Plan approval (1-2 months) and site work (2 months, depending on size and complexity of the site).
  • Detailed design plan and building plan approval: 1-2 months
    • The development review time would decrease since some work has been completed (e.g. plant inventory, site stabilization and drainage). 
  • Building construction: Approximately 9 months, again depending on the size and complexity of the building.
  • Total review and construction time for the employment use: 10-11 months 
According to Sun Corridor, several advanced tech/HQ businesses have recently located in the Tucson region. Some of which, considered but passed on locating in Oro Valley. The Town will continue to be overlooked by site selectors if unable to provide "ready to build" sites. This low absorption rate of Tech-Park land leads to property owners seeking to convert their vacant tech-park land to residential or develop senior care facilities (where allowed). 

3. Applicability of pre-graded sites.
The Town Council had concerns about the amount of sites that would be pre-graded. As discussed, the proposed code amendment significantly reduces the amount of sites allowed to remove plants before site plan approval. Pre-grading only applies to sites are vacant do not have previously approved plan. Further details regarding the applicable sites are provided below (see Attachment 10).
  • There are roughly 111 parcels in the EEZ. The majority of which are located in Innovation Park (89 parcels)
    • 54 are fully developed with buildings
    • 25 are graded pads. However, these pads are very small (for a small office building) located in Innovation Corporate Center and the Commerce Plaza (north of Gaslight Theater).
    • 4 have previously approved plans and could currently apply for grading permits.
Based on this information, the proposed code amendment would limit the current Town-wide allowance to 28 parcels. All except seven are located in Innovation Park. The majority of which are located away from residential areas.

4. Existing process to appeal administrative decisions.
With regard to removing the 20-day Town Council review period of an administrative decision in EEZ, the Town Council inquired about the existing process for appeals. Per code, administrative decisions, including but not limited to site plan approvals and permit issuance, may be appealed by any aggrieved person within 30 days to the Board of Adjustment. An aggrieved person does not have to abut a property, but it must be apparent the decision caused material harm. 

Detailed information about the proposed code amendment, including the changes to the sign criteria approval process is included in Attachment 5 and Attachment 6.

GENERAL PLAN CONFORMANCE
The proposed code amendment was reviewed for conformance with the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan. By adding stricter provisions while increasing the Town's competitive advantage for attracting employment uses, the proposed code amendment meets several goals and policies. Please see Attachment 6 for specific details. 

PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION
The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the proposed code amendment on November 5, 2019, during a study session (for staff report and minutes see Attachment 11) and recommended it for approval on December 3, 2019 (for staff report and minutes, see Attachment 12). Please see Attachments 4 through 6 for additional information about the Commission's discussions. 

PUBLIC NOTIFICATION
Outreach for the proposed code amendments complies with longstanding CED Standard Operating Procedures and State law. For this case, public notice has been provided as stated below. 
  • All HOAs in Town were notified of this hearing
  • All property owners of Tech-Park zoned property, Commerce/Office Park property and Innovation Park
  • Public hearing notices were posted:
    • In the Territorial Newspaper
    • In the Arizona Daily Star
    • At Town Hall
    • On the Town website 
Furthermore, the proposed code amendment was heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission twice and the Town Council four times as of September 2. A letter of support was received and is included in Attachment 13.

SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATION
The proposed code amendment (Attachment 2) aims to fulfill the goals of the Town Council's Strategic Leadership Plan and adopted Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) to attract and retain employment uses. 

The proposed code amendment was discussed by the Town Council through study sessions in January, February and a public hearing in July 2020. Based on these discussions, the code amendments were refined for consideration on September 2 and continued for discussion and possible action on September 16, 2020. As such, there is no new information provided in this report. The following updates were presented on September 2: 
  • Criteria have been added to further regulate and review the viability of development and potential visual impacts of pre-graded sites. An applicant must provide evidence of their ability to develop the site within 5 years and verify view impacts will not be materially detrimental to adjacent residential properties or public roadways.
  • In addition to enhanced buffer yards (25'-150'), the proposed code amendment now specifies the type of ground cover that must be used on pre-graded sites. Decomposed granite, matching the natural desert earth tones will minimize the visual impacts of the site.
  • A visual analysis has been conducted and finds sites near residential and along Oracle road will not be viewable. Of the sites that could be pre-graded, only 4 areas are visible from roadways and homes. 
  • The proposed code amendments are a critical step forward to attract employment uses. The absorption rate of Tech-Park land will continue to be low if the Town continues to forgo consideration by major employers. This has led to property owners seeking to convert tech-park land to residential uses or develop senior care facilities.
  • The Town forgoes consideration by 2-5 employer leads every month and will continue to be overlooked due to lack of available sites and ability to occupy a custom-building in less than 12 months. Pre-grading resolves this major deterrent and positions the Town to be part of a site selectors options. 
In summary, the proposed code amendment was revised prior to the September 2 public hearing and in response to Town Council's inquiries and concerns. On December 3, 2019, the Planning and Zoning Commission found the proposed code amendment to be in conformance with the General Plan and recommended approval. 
FISCAL IMPACT:
N/A
SUGGESTED MOTION:
Item A:
I MOVE to (APPROVE or DENY) Resolution No. (R)20-47, declaring the proposed code amendments to the Economic Expansion Zone, Section 24.9 and other associated sections of code in Attachment 1 and filed with the Town Clerk, a public record.

Item B:
I MOVE to (APPROVE or DENY) Ordinance No. (O)20-05, amending the Zoning Code Section 22.10, Section 24.9, Section 27.9 and other associated sections of the code related to the Economic Expansion Zone (EEZ).

 
Attachments
(R)20-47 EEZ Code Amendments
(O)20-05 EEZ Code Amendments
ATTACHMENT 3- MAP OF EEZ SITES
ATTACHMENT 4- TC STUDY SESSION REPORT AND MINUTES 1.8.2020
ATTACHMENT 5- TC STUDY SESSION REPORT AND MINUTES 2.5.2020
ATTACHMENT 6- TC REPORT AND DRAFT MINUTES 7.15.2020
ATTACHMENT 7- EXAMPLE OF DECOMPOSED GRANITE
ATTACHMENT 8- VISUAL ANALYSIS
ATTACHMENT 9- CURRENT AND PROPOSED PROCESS
ATTACHMENT 10- APPLICABLE PRE-GRADING SITES
ATTACHMENT 11- PZC STUDY SESSION REPORT AND MINUTES 11.5.2020
ATTACHMENT 12- PZC REPORT AND MINUTES 12.3.2020
ATTACHMENT 13- LETTER OF SUPPORT


    

Level double AA conformance,
                W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

AgendaQuick ©2005 - 2020 Destiny Software Inc. All Rights Reserved.