NEWS

Read the latest PRESERVE VISTOSO PULSE as well as articles from other publications about our Vision and actions. 

Romspen Withdraws its General Plan Amendment But Anticipates Re-application in 2021


October 6, 2020 – Preserve Vistoso was just notified by the Town of Oro Valley that Romspen requested its General Plan Amendment and zoning changes be removed from review and public hearings for 2020. Romspen said it anticipates re-application next year (2021).

Preserve Vistoso Board and members are extremely disappointed that Romspen failed to accept a cash, fair market value offer from The Conservation Fund (TCF) for the purchase of the former Vistoso Golf Course. Romspen failed to understand the commitment this community has to save the property as a Nature Preserve and Community Trail. We made our voices heard with the Town of Oro Valley in 2020 and we will do the same in 2021.

Preserve Vistoso intends to continue our outreach and grow our membership. We will be even stronger when Romspen applies again for a General Plan Amendment in 2021.

The Preserve Vistoso Board will continue to inform you about our efforts to make sure our community has a voice in what happens to the former golf course. We welcome ideas and comments on how we can work together to stop Romspen from building hundreds of homes and condos on land reserved for recreation. We aren’t about to stop our efforts.  

Thanks for your support. We will continue to keep you informed.


Oro Valley Podcast Interviews Mike Ford, TCF

If you would like to hear more about TCF and its attempt to purchase the Vistoso Property, please check out Jim Horn’s Oro Valley Podcast interview with Mike Ford, TCF Southwest Director, which you can access here.  
 

Preserve Vistoso Community Group Announces Owner of Vistoso Golf Course Rejects Fair Market Value Cash Offer for Property

ORO VALLEY, AZ Oct. 2, 2020 -- Preserve Vistoso (preservevistoso.org), a non-profit (501c3) with more than 1,300 members, today announced that Romspen Investments, owner of the Vistoso Golf Course in northern Oro Valley, rejected a cash offer from The Conservation Fund (TCF) for the 208-acre property at its fair market value. Preserve Vistoso members invited TCF to negotiate the purchase of the property.

 

In late March, Romspen, a $3 billion Canadian private mortgage lender, filed a rezoning application with the Town of Oro Valley that included hundreds of new homes and condos throughout the property. During April and May, Oro Valley residents sent thousands of comments to the Town opposing Romspen’s application. During two of the four scheduled Zoom public meetings in May, the Rancho Vistoso residents demonstrated community opposition to the rezoning application.

On June 3, the Town Council unanimously voted to direct the Town Staff to work with TCF and Romspen on the potential preservation of the open space that was formerly the Vistoso golf course, and to work with TCF to help identify possible funding, including grant funding, to acquire the property for a green space to be gifted to the Town. TCF planned to place the property in a conservation easement and land trust for the community to enjoy as open space. TCF has worked in all 50 states to protect more than eight million acres of land since 1985.

In July, TCF entered into a purchase contract with Romspen and made an offer based upon the fair market value of the property established under a mutually acceptable process. The report was prepared by an experienced independent 3rd party appraiser (CBRE), using joint appraisal instructions consistent with the Uniform Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions, commonly known as the ‘Yellow Book’.

“Regrettably, Romspen elected not to accept the Fund’s offer at this time and terminated the contract,” said Mike Ford, TCF Nevada and Southwest Director.  “We will continue to keep an open line of communication with Romspen, the community, and the Town of Oro Valley in support of this worthy endeavor should something change.”

  

The Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission on October 13 will consider Romspen’s request for a continuance of the application to provide additional time for the ongoing open space purchase conversation. Preserve Vistoso members would like Romspen’s request denied. (Copy of yellow card notice attached)

“We have total community support for the TCF purchase of the property and received pledges of more than $1.5 million to help replenish the revolving fund TCF uses to purchase properties,” said Michael Bilodeau, President of Preserve Vistoso. “To have one of the most successful and highly regarded American conservation organizations interested in preserving the property is a great opportunity for our community. We are surprised and disappointed that Romspen would not accept TCF’s cash offer. The investment firm wants to recover losses on a bad investment by changing the rezoning to a use that is detrimental to Oro Valley current and future residents.”

Romspen acquired the Vistoso Golf Course in 2015 at a foreclosure auction when the owner of the property, IRI Golf Group LLC, defaulted on its mortgage loan. Attempts by Romspen Investments to sell the former golf course ended in June 2018 with the closing of the golf course. Preserve Vistoso was founded in 2019 so the community would have a voice is what happens to the former golf course property.

Preserve Vistoso believes that the 208-acre golf course property should remain open space to protect some of the last remaining Sonoran desert in Oro Valley. The organization wants to turn the property into a nature preserve and community trail to benefit all Oro Valley citizens.

Tom Weiskopf designed and opened the Vistoso Golf Course in 1995 with more than 70 percent of the property as desert habitat. Volunteers have identified eight different kinds of mammals, 29 species of birds, and at least five types of reptiles on the property. It has spectacular mountain scenery, more than six miles of paved trails, three restrooms, existing parking areas, a pond, walking access from hundreds of homes, petroglyphs and remnants of the Hohokam Sleeping Snake Village.

“We need to save this property for posterity,” Bilodeau said. “Oro Valley needs more park and recreational areas in the northern part of town. The property’s wide concrete paths would be available for families with strollers, seniors who can’t hike nearby mountain trails, or disabled residents. We cannot miss this opportunity and need community-wide support.”

More information about Preserve Vistoso is available at preservevistoso.org.

 

A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESERVE VISTOSO BOARD  


October 1, 2020 -- On Wednesday, Romspen rejected The Conservation Fund’s (TCF) offer of the appraised fair market value for the 208-acre Vistoso property. As background, Romspen filed its rezoning proposal with the Town of Oro Valley in late March. During April and May, Oro Valley residents sent thousands of comments to the Town opposing Romspen’s application. During two of the four scheduled Zoom public meetings in May, you demonstrated total community opposition to the rezoning application. The Town Council voted June 3 to direct the Town Staff to pause the rezoning application and allow TCF to negotiate with Romspen to purchase the property.  

We need to demonstrate once again that our community opposes Romspen’s General Plan Amendment application.  Your comments to  ask@orovalleyaz.gov will become part of the public record as Planning and Zoning Commission on October 13 considers Romspen’s request to continue the rezoning public hearings. The Town Council is expected to vote on Romspen’s request for continuance in December, but we need to express our opinions now.    

ATTEND THE OCTOBER 7 ZOOM TOWN COUNCIL MEETING 

Your first opportunity to tell the Town Council members why you oppose Romspen’s rezoning application will be October 7 at the Town Council’s Zoom meeting. The Vistoso property General Plan Amendment is not on the agenda, so we will be able to express our opinions at the start of the Council meeting. Here is information on how to participate:

CALL TO AUDIENCE – At this time, any member of the public is allowed to address the Mayor and Town Council on any issue not listed on today’s agenda. Pursuant to the Arizona Open Meeting Law, individual Council Members may ask Town Staff to review the matter, ask that the matter be placed on a future agenda, or respond to criticism made by speakers. However, the Mayor and Council may not discuss or take legal action on matters raised during “Call to Audience.” In order to speak during “Call to Audience” please specify what you wish to discuss when completing the blue speaker card.   

You will need to request a blue card and indicate that you want to talk about the Vistoso property rezoning application. Here is how you request a blue card:

  1. Send an email to bluecard@orovalleyaz.gov or

  2. Call the Town Clerk's office at 520-229-4700

If you would like to view the entire Town Council agenda for October 7, you can click here

PLANNING AND ZONING MEETING OCTOBER 13

We do not have the agenda for the Planning and Zoning meeting on October 13, but we expect that Romspen will request a continuance of its General Plan Amendment.  We hope you will send your comments to ask@orovalleyaz.gov.  You can find Romspen’s application information at http://OVprojects.com  under General Plan Amendments. Once we have more information on the meeting, we will let you know.  

THANK YOU

Preserve Vistoso members have shown overwhelming support to preserve the Vistoso properties as a nature preserve and community trail. The Preserve Vistoso Board thanks you.   

 

Let your voice be heard.
Preserve Vistoso.

Let us know what you think, email us at:
PreserveVistoso@gmail.com 

The above article is the verbatim text of the October 1, 2020 Preserve Vistoso PULSE. Also, for background material see previous PULSE issues on the About Us page under Pulse Archives. 

Michigan Golf Course becomes Nature Preserve

An Example for our Efforts

Excerpted from: https://www.mlive.com/news/2020/07/former-harbor-springs-golf-club-reopens-as-290-acre-nature-preserve.html

Former Harbor Springs golf club reopens as 280-acre nature preserve

Updated Jul 06, 2020; Posted Jul 06, 2020