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Why is the Town allowing development in "open space?"

The Town of Oro Valley is not allowing development in protected open space. The term “open space” is often used incorrectly to refer to privately owned and undeveloped, natural desert. And there is a false assumption that this undeveloped land is legally protected so that it remains undeveloped. The fact is, much of the natural desert space throughout Oro Valley is privately owned parcels of land. The parcels are zoned to legally allow development of houses (residential) and/or businesses (commercial). Property owners have the legal right to develop their land as long as the design complies with Town regulations. Many incorrectly assume that a governmental entity can simply take away this right without purchasing the land.

The true definition of “open space” is natural areas that—through zoning, conservation easements or public ownership—have been preserved formally from development. These areas are intended to benefit the community overall, but may or may not be accessible for public use.

The Town of Oro Valley understands the importance of conserving natural beauty, which is why it is such a high priority when working with developers. The Town’s General Plan highlights the importance of conservation and beauty within our town, and the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance is a direct response to the value we place on natural beauty.

Oro Valley’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance helps conserve natural, scenic, hillside, and cultural resources. This has been accomplished in a comprehensive manner by accounting for environmental, archeological and historic resources, economic development, and housing policies.

The Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance was developed through extensive community input and the research of proven conservation methods. In fact, the science and standards of the Pima County Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan served as the foundation. Oro Valley’s approach is more comprehensive, precise and far reaching than any other municipality in Southern Arizona.

Click here to learn more about the Town’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance.