Skip to main content
This section is included in your selections.

A. Purpose and Use

1. Purpose

The purpose of this zone is to permit the development of golf courses in the Town of Oro Valley while preserving and enhancing water resources, scenic vistas, neighborhoods, property uses, and values. All public and private parties acknowledge this section as an instrument to address the paramount concern for safety and the need to design, landscape, and re-landscape, as necessary, to reduce the incidence of golf balls striking homes or persons.

2. Applicability

a. After the effective date of the ordinance codified in this section, the requirements of this overlay district shall apply to any new golf course development permitted by base zoning, approved via conditional use permit (see Section 22.5 and Section 25.1.B.15), and to any new golf course within an existing, or subsequently approved, planned area development.

b. The overlay district regulations shall apply to expansion of any golf course existing, or under construction, on the effective date of the ordinance codified in this section.

c. The overlay district shall include all properties/parcels, whether vacant or developed, which are adjacent to a golf course fairway, tee box, green or driving range. Properties which do not lie immediately adjacent to golf course fairways or driving ranges are exempt from these requirements.

d. All other permitted uses, provisions, and requirements of the underlying zone and/or Planned Area Development shall apply.

B. Related Uses

Golf course related uses shall be allowed only as permitted by underlying zoning or an adopted Planned Area Development. Any such use must be approved with the golf course development plan or by a subsequent approval of a development plan for the related use by the Town Council. Such uses must be consistent and compatible with the golf course overlay zone.

C. Standards for Golf Course Design and Irrigation

1. Purpose

These requirements and standards must be met in order to obtain the approval of a development plan and associated Town issued permits for any golf course in the Town of Oro Valley, subsequent to the adoption of the ordinance codified in this section. These standards shall act to control the design and irrigation method of golf courses in the Town of Oro Valley.

a. Irrigation Design Standards

As groundwater is recognized as a precious natural resource and the conservation of this resource is deemed crucial to the long-term sustainability of the greater Oro Valley community, the following irrigation standards are intended to provide for the efficient use of potable ground water supplies. These standards shall also provide for the timely implementation of the use of renewable water supplies, including non-potable and/or Central Arizona Project water, for golf course irrigation purposes.

i. Maximize use of irrigation supply sources other than potable groundwater for irrigation.

a) All golf courses which begin construction after the adoption of the ordinance codified in this section must be irrigated with an alternate renewable water supply.

b) If such a source is not available, the applicant will provide an irrigation supply plan, per Section 24.6.D of this section.

c) In the interim, groundwater use for golf course irrigation is permitted, provided the golf course water provider meets the A.D.W.R. assured water supply requirements and is a member in good standing of the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District through which the groundwater consumption by the golf course can be offset by replenishment or recharge.

ii. Landscaping shall be consistent in water use with the desert environment:

a) Trees, shrubs, and groundcovers shall be desert hardy, low pollen dispersing, and low in water requirement.

b) The landscape plan must utilize only drought-tolerant planting materials, requiring minimal irrigation in ancillary re-vegetation areas.

c) Use of inorganic groundcovers in non-playing areas, rather than turf, is encouraged.

iii. All water used upon the golf course shall be separately metered.

iv. Provision shall be made for on-site storage of the irrigation supply. Any surface impoundment used for on-site storage of the irrigation supply shall have a sealed bottom.

v. Irrigation system(s) that are considered efficient in conserving the irrigation supply by generally accepted irrigation industry standards and golf course irrigation practices in comparable desert locations shall be installed and maintained in good working condition.

2. Water Analysis and Irrigation Supply Plan

a. All golf courses to which this section applies shall prepare a water analysis (see subsection D.2.d of this section) which details the type of water source, and a long-term supply analysis, including conservation methods, measures, and facilities.

b. Unless an alternate renewable water source will be used for irrigation, an irrigation supply plan will be required per subsection D.2.d of this section.

3. Golf Course Design Standards

The following standards shall act to control the design, maintenance and operation of golf courses in the Town of Oro Valley:

a. Fringe and/or transition areas shall be provided to assure minimum setbacks from adjacent existing and future residential property lines. Golf hole “envelopes” or boundaries and driving range boundaries shall be created and clearly indicated on the final site plan. Envelopes shall observe the following distances to adjoining existing and future residential properties:

i. Adjacent to landing areas (one hundred fifty (150) to two hundred fifty (250) yards from the tee boxes) and all turning points: Two hundred (200) feet from the centerline of the fairway,

ii. Adjacent to tees: one hundred (100) feet minimum from the center tee box of the tee area or fifty (50) feet from the edge of nearest tee box, whichever is greater,

iii. Adjacent to greens: Two hundred (200) feet minimum from the center of greens, or one hundred fifty (150) feet from the edge of greens, whichever is greater. When the center tee box of the tee area is one hundred fifty (150) yards or less from the green, setbacks from center of green will be one hundred (100) feet.

iv. Adjacent to driving range boundaries: Two hundred (200) feet from landing areas and one hundred (100) feet from tee areas.

v. The Town Council, upon the recommendation of the golf course architect, hired by the Town to review plans (see subsection E of this section), and the Planning and Zoning Commission may approve smaller setbacks, where deemed appropriate for any golf course type, including executive and pitch-and-putt golf courses. Criteria to be considered when permitting setback reductions include, but are not limited to, significant stands of existing vegetation to be preserved in place, grade separation between fairway and properties to be developed and prevailing winds.

b. Berms, linear hazards, trees, and tall shrubs shall be utilized to assist in defending adjacent property from errant golf balls.

c. Preservation in place and salvage of native vegetation, including trees, shrubs and cacti, are strongly encouraged. The preparation and approval of a native plant salvage plan is required in accordance with Section 27.6. Salvage and removal of vegetation may be field adjusted to meet the needs of line-of-sight and golf playability.

d. Natural drainageways shall be retained to the maximum extent.

e. Golf course design shall respect the natural topography and drainageways of the site, and employ minimal grading and clearing of native vegetation. Minimal grading shall be limited to fairways, rough areas immediately adjacent to fairways, green areas, driving ranges, tee boxes, and areas immediately adjacent to tee boxes, surface impoundments and cart paths. Substantial grading, as determined by the Planning and Zoning Administrator, shall not be permitted in other areas of the golf course. Golf course elements, including tee boxes, landing areas, greens, and fairways, may be placed within the one hundred (100) year floodplain; provided, that appropriate engineering and drainage control are provided.

f. Landscape buffers will be required by the Planning and Zoning Commission and/or Town Council, if it is determined that a need exists to mitigate the hazard caused by errant golf balls and/or the adverse impacts of sound, visibility and/or traffic on areas abutting the golf course. Buffers may include drainage ways, natural features, existing vegetation, open space, and up to thirty (30) feet on either side of the four hundred (400) foot wide fairway envelope adjacent to the areas for which mitigation is needed. Buffers may not include tee boxes, greens or other areas of normal play.

g. All maintenance buildings or yards, storage or refuse areas shall be shown on the development plans and shall be appropriately screened, as determined by the Planning and Zoning Commission or Town Council at the time of golf course development plan review.

h. Golf cart path design dependent upon access to public streets shall not be permitted, except for street crossings, as required for golf course play.

4. Off-Street Parking

a. Off-street parking spaces shall be provided, in accordance with all requirements of Section 27.7, and shall be adequate in number to serve persons employed, residing, or visiting on the premises so as to prevent congestion of surrounding streets and promote the safety of the public.

b. Devices used to screen parking from public view shall not impede the flow of floodwater.

5. Residential Design Standards

The following standard acts to provide additional public safety and protection of private property from errant golf balls:

a. Walls and/or vegetation are encouraged, and may be required, by recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission and approval of the Town Council, in order to afford additional protection from errant golf balls.

((O)17-05 , 2017; (O)11-15 , 2011.)

D. Golf Course Development Plan Submittal

Applications required under this Chapter shall be submitted in a form and in such numbers as required by the official responsible for accepting the application.

E. Plan Review

Upon receipt of a complete development plan submittal for any new, or expanding, golf course development, to include all requirements of subsection D of this section. The Planning and Zoning Administrator shall select, and retain, a golf course architect, who shall serve as a professional consultant to the Town in its review of the project. Consultant fees incurred by the Town shall be reimbursed by the golf course developer/applicant.

1. Recommendations of Golf Course Architect

a. The recommendations of the golf course architect shall be submitted to the Planning and Zoning Administrator in writing. Said recommendations shall be reviewed by staff and forwarded to the applicant. A resubmittal of the development plan, which responds to the Town’s golf course consultant and staff comments, must be received prior to scheduling the plan for the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing.

b. In review of golf course development plans, the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council shall consider public safety and protection of property paramount over preservation.

((O)17-05 , 2017; 6/11 supplement, 2011.)

F. Procedures and Limitations

No application for a development plan/golf course overlay district will be accepted unless the zoning district or adopted Planned Area Development permits the use or a conditional use permit has been granted in accordance with the procedures set forth in Section 22.4.

1. Effective Date and Phasing

a. The golf course overlay zone shall be effective on the property at such time as the Town Council reviews the recommendations of the Planning and Zoning Commission deems that the development plan submitted therefor meets the provisions of this section, and approves it.

b. If a golf course is constructed in phases, a construction schedule must be submitted and approved with the development plan.

2. Grading Permits

a. No clearing, brushing, or grubbing, grading or development shall be allowed in the proposed golf course zone prior to approval of a grading plan and the issuance of a grading permit.

b. Salvage of vegetation may commence upon the approval of the development plan and native plant salvage plan.

c. A golf course grading plan will be accepted and approved only as an element of the required golf course development plan.

d. Grading permits will be issued only after the grading plan review and approval by the Town Engineer and Planning and Zoning Administrator and all necessary revegetation bonds have been posted.

e. Prior to any site disturbance, all areas to remain natural, in accordance with the approved landscape plan, shall be fenced off with temporary fencing. The Town’s Zoning Inspector shall be contacted to assure that the fencing provided is adequate and that the operation has been completed.

f. All plant materials to be saved in place or relocated on site must be tagged, and the necessary inspections of same must be performed, in accordance with Section 27.6.

3. Conflict

In the event a conflict arises between the provisions of this Chapter and other requirements of the Oro Valley Zoning Code Revised, the more restrictive shall apply.

((O)17-05 , 2017; 6/11 supplement, 2011.)

G. Variance

Per the Section 21.6, any requests for variance to the provisions of this Section must be granted by the Board of Adjustment. In addition to the findings required in Section 21.6, the Board of Adjustment must find that:

1. Approval of the variance will not increase the apparent probability or frequency of errant golf balls intruding upon adjacent private properties.

2. Public safety is equally provided for with the granting of said variance.