Flag Day, Put Your Flag Out

OV Planning Division recognized for policy to conserve saguaros

Planning Division staff pictured with the award. From left to right:
Michael Spaeth – Principal Planner, Hannah Oden – Senior Planner, Bayer Vella – Planning Manager, Milini Simms – Principal Planner, and Kyle Packer – Planner I.

ORO VALLEY, Ariz. (Sept. 2, 2022) – The Town of Oro Valley is pleased to announce that the Planning Division won an “Ordinance/Regulation/Legislation/Adopted Policy” award by the Arizona Chapter of the National Planning Association for the division’s project entitled “Keeping Heritage Saguaros Central to Design.” The award was presented on August 25 at the 2022 State Planning Conference in Scottsdale, AZ.

Protecting environmental resources is a community value identified in the Town’s General Plan. The Town has policies in place that require healthy saguaros to be preserved; however, recent development applications in areas heavily populated by large saguaros triggered the need for staff to clarify how to interpret and apply those policies.

The Planning Division, which is part of the Town of Oro Valley’s Community and Economic Development Department, researched previous studies about transplanted saguaros and interviewed local, state and national field experts to accurately determine saguaro health, transplant viability and methods for protecting larger saguaros throughout development. This research created updated administrative procedures and policies to ensure consistent methods to identify healthy saguaros, assign appropriate treatment and require protective measures during the development process. Staff conducted field studies with the new procedures and found results to be successful.

“This award celebrates the Town’s commitment to conserve our heritage saguaros. It also demonstrates the Town’s progress fulfilling community environmental values expressed in the voter-approved Your Voice, Our Future General Plan,” said Oro Valley’s Planning Manager Bayer Vella. “This pioneering work has already made a significant impact on subdivision design by maintaining heritage saguaros in place, identifying suitable individuals for transplant and implementing protective construction measures to help ensure their long-term survival. Once again, OV’s work is being recognized as an innovative model for all Sonoran Desert communities.”

For a video that explains the project in further detail, click here.