Posts Tagged ‘Carolyn Campbell’

26th February
2009
written by Arizona Kid

Twenty-five years back, there were a clutch of prime mantras among the activist set: Growth could be stopped. Cattle-grazing was archaic. Mining was a goner. Developers could be battled to a standstill, and the Pusch Ridge bighorns would tough it out.Today, folks who built below Pusch Ridge adore the foothills wildlife–until it nibbles their bougainvillea. More habitat has vanished from this county than perhaps ever existed in some states. Cows are now seen as bulwarks against bulldozers. As for bighorn sheep, well, somebody figures they might have seen a footprint up beyond those pretty cul-de-sacs sometime back.

Growth has continued at freakish levels, although a crashing real estate market offers some hope. Still, even wayward water supplies haven’t truly threatened this juggernaut; the housing industry, along with local government, still huddles under the Central Arizona Project’s rippling chimera.

Yet time marches on. And some iconic battles from those days–stopping the UA telescopes on Mount Graham, for example, or blocking developer Don Diamond’s Rocking K Ranch exurb–weren’t exactly won, but they weren’t totally lost, either.

The Mount Graham mountaintop telescopes are nearly due for review by the Coronado National Forest, and UA astronomers may lack the political muscle of yesteryear. Diamond did toss a few acreage bones to Saguaro National Park East, and bankrolled the Rincon Institute to cope with what his avarice had wrought.

Meanwhile, some things have actually improved. Though our fair city has plumped beyond reason, one recent UA analysis reveals that Arizona’s population grew by a measly 1.6 percent in the last year, the lowest rate since the blistering recession in the 1990s.

And although we’ve had decades to ponder the mine tailings south of Tucson (“Manmade Mountains!” one real estate brochure enthused), citizens are tightly organized against a new mine proposed for Rosemont Valley in the Santa Rita Mountains.

So there is reason to hope. Indeed, tempered optimism is raison d’ètre among most conservationists. Among them is Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. Campbell’s coalition has been knee-deep in prodding Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (one true victory-in-progress) down the road to reality.

Since its late 1990s inception as a wildlife-protection blueprint, the project has spent roughly $120 million from a voter-approved bond to purchase or lease more than 160,000 acres.

To Campbell, that 2004 bond–when citizens earmarked nearly $175 million to buy open space–was a turning point. “In Pima County, people have always been working on protecting open space,” she says, “and we’ve had open-space bonds for the last 20 years. But the big difference is the planning and scientific effort that went into this endangered-species project. The open space we targeted was key habitat for particular species, along with connectivity between some of the already preserved areas. So there was a little bit of method to the madness.

“It’s why there’s still a lot of support from the conservation community, and, I believe, the community at large,” Campbell says. “We’ve had the best available science behind the plan, and not politics. But what is different now is that we have the political will among citizens. Before, it was like beating our heads against the wall.”

Gayle Hartmann has also been in the trenches for eons, including a stint on the Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission. She now heads Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a group fighting the proposed Rosemont mine. Hartmann heralds the addition of Sharon Bronson and Ray Carroll to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Bronson was elected to the board in 1996, representing District 3; Carroll was appointed to represent District 4 a year later, and formally elected in 1998. Finally, says Hartmann, “there was a majority on the board that was really interested in conservation.”

Both supervisors championed open-space preservation, and Carroll has fought the proposed Rosemont mine with a notable vengeance. In 2007, he garnered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Outstanding Achievement award.

Equally notable is a shift among Green Valley constituents in District 4 who support him. “Twenty years ago, Green Valley was always against any type of open space,” says Hartmann, “and that’s completely changed. I don’t know if it’s because there are more people there, or if the people there are somewhat different. But his district–although they may be politically conservative in some ways–now seems very concerned about environmental issues.”

That concern has been critical in efforts to limit Santa Cruz Valley growth, including the vastly scaled-down Canoa Ranch development. Many Green Valley dwellers have also been bare-knuckle opponents of the Augusta mine.

Another positive change, says Hartmann, “is that we don’t have quite as nasty a war between the pro-growth and no-growth sides. To some degree, I guess the pro-growthers won. But at the same time, I think there’s a much better understanding of the need to do preservation and see that we have enough water.”

Roger Featherstone, a longtime anti-mining activist, has likewise been in the fray for years. Today, he relishes the heat generated against Canadian-owned Augusta Resource Corp., the mining company hoping to gut Rosemont Valley. He’s also guardedly cheered about legislation sifting through Congress to reform the despised 1872 Mining Act. This antiquated law gives mining companies such as Augusta near carte blanche in laying claim to public lands.

“Tucson has become a lot more conservation-minded in the last 20 years,” Featherstone says, “and I think that really shows in the Rosemont fight. You now have to look long and hard to find anybody who’s in favor of that mine.

“People understand,” he says, “that Tucson has different values now when it comes to raping and pillaging the land than they did 20 years ago.”

Despite that positive shift, says Featherstone, conservationists now face an unexpected foe: themselves. “Twenty-five years ago, when we were all here fighting, we worked really hard, and we had some successes and some real disappointments. But the pace wasn’t nearly so frenetic. We had time to sit on a porch at night with buddies and drink beer.

“But now we’ve really gotten into this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ syndrome, where we’re running twice as fast, and we’re still falling behind. I think the conservation community has to take a serious look at the fact that they’re working twice as hard and getting a lot less done–with a lot more stress and a lot more unhappiness.

“If I could start a new environmental trend,” he half-chuckles, “it would be modeled on the slow-food movement.”

So does long and languid dining offer any tantalizing hints for Tucson’s environmental future? We’ll pop a beer, gnaw a few pretzels and get back to you on that in about 25 years.

12th January
2009
written by Land Lawyer

In an ongoing series to spell out exactly how unfair and hard it is to get anything done in our region. I am going dig deep into specific projects and let the reader be the judge. Since the Painted Hills project is back on the Board of Supervisor’s agenda for review this week we thought we’d update the readers on the challenge the project has been. Read yesterday’s Star’s article – HERE.

A little history on Painted Hills. Picture a tract of land, with beautiful saguaros and pristine desert that took 1000′s of years to create (never mind that virtually the entirety of Pima County was once such pristine desert). The property totals 283 acres on Tucson’s west side which would turn in to 260 high end homes. The project  is owned by the TDB Tucson Group who represents the Dallas Police and Firefighters’ Pension System and is being developed by LandBaron a Las Vegas firm. Lots of big dollars and professional firms involved.

Here is were it starts to get interesting. Apparently Pima County identified the land as part of it’s open space purchases from voter approved bond money. At one point there was an offer to purchase the property for $4.25 million. The ultimate sale price came in at $27 million well beyond the County’s budget.

The new land owner went through the motions to turn the property into a CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT which is a way to encourage higher density infill. By becoming a cluster development the developer agreed to the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan requirements and set aside over 200 acres of the total of 283 for open space. The cluster development requires that housing be grouped in clusters on the development instead of checker boarded around the site.  Tough mistake but a mistake none the less. From The Weekly:

Officials from Pima County Development Services say cluster subdivisions allow high-density development on small parcels of land without compromising more open space. Critics use Painted Hills as an example to show that they can also offer a loophole to developers: Cluster subdivisions like Painted Hills effectively create a de facto rezoning with less scrutiny while ignoring the guidelines in the county’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

Let me see if I understand, buyer buys the land,  understands the rules BEFORE buying the land, buyer goes to work on turning their investment into a profit.  Enter the neighbors, a couple of which happen to be none other than Chuck Huckleberry, the Pima County Administrator and Carolyn Campbell from the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. (learn more HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). Probably two of the most powerful environmental leaders in Tucson just happen to be your new neighbors. NIMBY starts taking on a whole new meaning.

Neighbors file suit to block the development. Board of Supervisors take another look at the cluster development problem and fix the loop hole. The Board seeks legal advice about RETROACTIVLY applying the fixed ordinance to the Painted Hills development. 

Silvyn (attorny for LandBaron) warned the county that applying cluster revisions retroactively is “unconstitutional,” because the development has completed its county review process.

What’s a little unconstitutionality among friends.

Lissa Gibbs, left, with Judith Meyer of Tucson Mountains Association:

Lissa Gibbs, left, with Judith Meyer of Tucson Mountains Association:

The Tucson Weekly ran a feature profiling the Friends of Painted Hills discussion.

I’m not taking a position on what, if or how this property does or does not ever get developed.  Leave it as open space, turn it into apartments, section 8 housing you name it I really don’t have a horse in the race so I don’t particularly care.

Here is where I have a major issue; how on earth can a government entity so blatantly disregard private property rights. Unless I missed something we do live in America. Pima County could have cowboyed up and purchased the property but didn’t. The group that did buy the land did their due diligence and knew exactly what they were getting into. The rules were posted and the developer followed them to the ‘T’. In return they’ve  received nothing but grief. I can bet you that the buyer,  Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund are cursing the day they ever set foot in Tucson.

As of the April 17th, 2008 publishing of the Weekly article  the legal opinion on if the retroactive application of the ordinance fix is waiting a ruling.  But why stop there, let’s hit the project with everything we got.  Oct 21, 2008 the Star ran an article about the City of Tucson, denying water hook up to four new developments located outside of Tucson city limits, you guessed it Painted Hills is one of them.

Of the four projects at stake, Painted Hills is the most controversial…..In its legal claim filed Oct. 8 at City Hall, Painted Hills developer TDB Tucson Group said city officials ignored three requests for comment on water service when Pima County officials were reviewing the developer’s application for approval of its subdivision layout. ….
Tucson Water lines already exist along West Speedway and Anklam roads next to the Painted Hills property, and Tucson Water already serves properties on three sides of this parcel, Iurino wrote. The letter quoted a 2007 memo from Assistant City Attorney Chris Avery saying the city cannot arbitrarily refuse to provide water to “infill” development within an existing service area.
“We’re not really protesting anything. All we’re doing is saying this is one of those situations where city has a clear obligation to serve,” said Keri Silvyn, another attorney for the developer.
The city’s stance was welcomed by neighbors who have fought the Painted Hills project.
“I think that the City Council and mayor understand the value of the natural environment, that it is an irreplaceable asset to the character of life and quality of life and are supporting (a) clear mandate voters made by approving bonds to buy that land,” said Lissa Gibbs, a neighboring resident.
Ward 1 Councilwoman Regina Romero. “It’s not about Painted Hills — it’s about the future and planning of all our development.”

Yeah right!

You may want to read a little about Prop 207 which passed in AZ with a 64.8% margin. It’s about a little thing called Private Property Rights.
We’ve published the techniques used by the environmentalist in a previous post HERE but it’s worth a reprint;

It goes something like this;

1. Elected representatives approve a zoning plan for up zoning on a piece of property. Usually the lots are zoned for 3 acres to 25 acres or restricted to agriculture or churches. The developer often buys the land contingent on these zoning changes. With the vote from the elected officials in hand the transaction is completed.

2. Environmental activists learn about the impact of the development on the SDCP or on the habitat of a pygmy owl or the (insert plant or animal name here – try the Gila Chub, Tucson shovel-nosed snake, the Pima Pinaple Cactus, Southwest Willow Flycatcher or whatever). Their efforts go into full court press.

3. The Enviro’s drum up support from the adjacent neighbors. This plan includes door to door marketing to each neighbor. The goal is to stress the traffic impact of the new development  or just about anything that will stoke the fires of the NIMBY crowd. Petitions are signed, special elections are demanded, court actions are started. The Enviro’s use some or all of these efforts to over rule the original zoning or council approved  vote.

4. The cycle goes on costing the developer untold dollars and more importantly TIME. The Enviro’s are organized, they know the rules and they pull every legal lever they can.   Usually the cost of legal engagement is minimal because the federal species acts are set up force the government to do the heavy lifting. Whether it’s getting federal designation of the Santa Cruz as navigable, or forcing a mining company to go through the federal process to cross a small wash leading to their quarry, the Enviro’s use the laws and our taxpayer funded court system to do their work.

5.  If the petition process isn’t the best fit, the Enviro’s can  pit one jurisdiction against another. You see that in State Land Department wedged between Pima County and Oro Valley, or the developer in Sahuarita that was being played between the county and the Town of Sahaurita. Using political leverage with the help of an  Enviro friendly jurisdiction against one another is common place.  These power player jurisdictions use future annexation of land  as a tool to get municipalities into line.  (Oro Valley and Marana recently adopted the SDCP.)

6. Building in requirements to all developments are another tactic.  Enviro’s have successfully built in requirements for future developments to include;  native plant preservation, rain water harvesting, water shed and rainwater retention basins, 100 year assured water supplies just to name a few. Some of these new development design specifications are useful and important. Many are simply pandering to a special interest and down right ridiculous. All of these added requirements cost money. Guess who ultimately pays the price for these extra steps? The developer? Absolutely not, the cost gets passed directly to you and I the end consumers.

7. When all else fails and probably the Enviro’s greatest ace in the hole is there ability to count votes from elected officials. By picking, supporting, funding and working to get the elected officials in office the Enviro lobby wields tremendous influence with elected officials in towns, cities and the county.

 

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

 

10th January
2009
written by Land Lawyer

All too often there are developments in our region that draw the attention of the newspapers, environmentalist, elected officials, neighbors and business community. Red Rock Development’s proposal to put in 300 homes in the middle of Marana ( corner of Cortaro and I-10) is one of those developments.

This project is full of court battles, neighborhood opposition and years of delay. The environmental groups are pulling out all the stops and utilizing all the tricks to tie up the project. If you keep a close eye this process you will start seeing a pattern.

It goes something like this;

1. Elected representatives approve a zoning plan for up zoning on a piece of property. Usually the lots are zoned for 3 acres to 25 acres or restricted to agriculture or churches. The developer often buys the land contingent on these zoning changes. With the vote from the elected officials in hand the transaction is completed.

2. Environmental activists learn about the impact of the development on the SDCP or on the habitat of a pygmy owl or the (insert plant or animal name here – try the Gila Chub, Tucson shovel-nosed snake, the Pima Pinaple Cactus, Southwest Willow Flycatcher or whatever). Their efforts go into full court press.

3. The Enviro’s drum up support from the adjacent neighbors. This plan includes door to door marketing to each neighbor. The goal is to stress the traffic impact of the new development  or just about anything that will stoke the fires of the NIMBY crowd. Petitions are signed, special elections are demanded, court actions are started. The Enviro’s use some or all of these efforts to over rule the original zoning or council approved  vote.

4. The cycle goes on costing the developer untold dollars and more importantly TIME. The Enviro’s are organized, they know the rules and they pull every legal lever they can.   Usually the cost of legal engagement is minimal because the federal species acts are set up force the government to do the heavy lifting. Whether it’s getting federal designation of the Santa Cruz as navigable, or forcing a mining company to go through the federal process to cross a small wash leading to their quarry, the Enviro’s use the laws and our taxpayer funded court system to do their work.

5.  If the petition process isn’t the best fit, the Enviro’s can  pit one jurisdiction against another. You see that in State Land Department wedged between Pima County and Oro Valley, or the developer in Sahuarita that was being played between the county and the Town of Sahaurita. Using political leverage with the help of an  Enviro friendly jurisdiction against one another is common place.  These power player jurisdictions use future annexation of land  as a tool to get municipalities into line.  (Oro Valley and Marana recently adopted the SDCP.)

6. Building in requirements to all developments are another tactic.  Enviro’s have successfully built in requirements for future developments to include;  native plant preservation, rain water harvesting, water shed and rainwater retention basins, 100 year assured water supplies just to name a few. Some of these new development design specifications are useful and important. Many are simply pandering to a special interest and down right ridiculous. All of these added requirements cost money. Guess who ultimately pays the price for these extra steps? The developer? Absolutely not, the cost gets passed directly to you and I the end consumers.

7. When all else fails and probably the Enviro’s greatest ace in the hole is there ability to count votes from elected officials. By picking, supporting, funding and working to get the elected officials in office the Enviro lobby weilds tremendous influence with elected officials in towns, cities and the county.

 

Back to the Red Rock Development saga.

Inside Arizona Business

By Jeffery Gitomer, Syndicated Columnist
Published on Friday, January 02, 2009

What seemed like a simple request for rezoning has caught the attention of environmentalists, lawyers and election officials as one lawsuit concludes and another one begins over a northwest-side housing development.

Last month, a Pima County Superior Court judge ruled that a referendum to place the matter before Marana voters is valid, meaning the decision to rezone the 133 acres of land for a housing development will have been pushed back by at least 17 months. The DeAnza Specific Plan is located near the corner of Interstate 10 and Cortaro Road and is set to include more than 300 houses.

An appeal filed Dec. 10, a year to the day the petition was submitted, means the future of the project is still far from certain. Oral arguments for the second trial are set for Jan. 21, but a decision must be reached before late January, early February, when ballots are to be printed and mailed. Marana voters are tentatively set to decide in March 2009 whether to approve the rezoning.

Officials from Red Point Development, the backers of the project, declined to comment on the development.

Timing is critical for the appeal decision.

“Right now, it’s still on for the March election, but I understand the attorney for DeAnza is asking for a stay so it will be put off for the next election so the appeal can be heard in a non-accelerated fashion,” said Marana Town Attorney Frank Cassidy. “If he doesn’t get a stay, what’s probably is going to happen is the appeal will probably be heard on an expedited basis.”

If a stay of the election is granted, the vote could be pushed back until 2011, unless the developer is willing to pay for a special election. A 2004 housing development referendum cost about $20,000, Cassidy said.

Controversy arose last year when a group of petitioners filed signatures with the town of Marana, hoping to put the October 2007 rezoning matter on the next election’s ballot. According to procedure, a referendum must be filed 30 days after the council vote. However, the deadline fell on a day when town offices were closed, but officials said it was OK to turn in the signatures the following Monday.

This riled the developers, who filed suit last April against the town, claiming that late is late, no matter what town officials said.

The judge in the case, though, felt differently.

“An initiative supported by a sufficient number of signatures should not be lightly pushed aside for technical reasons,” said Judge John E. Davis in his Dec. 1 ruling.

Backers of the referendum felt that building a housing development at that location would be detrimental to the local wildlife.

“If it got built as it was adopted by the mayor and council more than a year ago, it would destroy a riparian corridor,” said Carolyn Campbell, executive direction of the Coalition of Southern Arizona Desert Protection. “The Hardy Wash is one of the biggest washes and river systems in the northwest side outside of the Santa Cruz River and Cañada del Oro.”

The coalition was instrumental in getting the signatures for the referendum. Based on conversations she’s had with Marana voters, Campbell said she was fairly confident the rezoning will be voted down.

If this happens, it would keep the property at its current zoning, approximately one house per 25 acres.

At this point any negotiations that had taken place between the environmental group and Red Point have stalled.

“We’ve always been interested in negotiating an agreement and go back to the town council with a better plan, but I haven’t heard back from them so I’m assuming they’re going to try to reverse the lower court’s decision,” Campbell said.

Should the developers need take another crack at rezoning the land, there is nothing stopping them from bringing the original plan back to the council, although Cassidy believes this is unlikely as it will bring the situation back to square one.

Though the appeal adds a new twist to the matter, Marana officials are confident that the appeals court will rule in their favor.

“We felt like it was a pretty straightforward issue, honestly. Personally I don’t think it’s going to be overturned, but who knows?” Cassidy said.

It can only be speculated that had the original rezoning request gone through if there would be houses built already in DeAnza. One thing is for sure, the real estate market is likely to be on the upswing if and when shovels hit the ground.

Timeline:

Oct. 2, 2007- Marana Town Council unanimously approves rezoning of DeAnza project

Dec. 10, 2007 – Referendum filed to nullify council’s decision and put  the rezoning matter before voters.

April 25, 2008– Fidelity National Title, representing the developers, files suit against town of Marana, arguing that the referendum was filed too late.

Dec. 1, 2008– Pima County Superior Court judge rules in favor of Marana saying the matter should be put before voters

Dec. 10, 2008 – The same day as the final judgment, Fidelity appeals decision, hopes to overturn before the March 2009 vote.

 Contact reporter Nicholas Smith at 295-4358 or at nsmith@azbiz.com.

__________________________________________________________________________
Nitzel weighs in. I wonder which way he’ll spin the story? One more reason NOT to advertise in the Tucson Weekly.
 

PUBLISHED ON JANUARY 17, 2008:

The Skinny

By MARI HERRERAS email the Weekly and JIM NINTZEL email this author

ANOTHER REVOLTING DEVELOPMENT

In Marana, the end of 2007 welcomed new development–along with some heavy-duty criticism from local desert-protection activists.Last week, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection pointed out that a 300-unit development approved by Marana would destroy prime desert on the Hardy Wash. The project is called DeAnza, and contradicts the habitat-conservation planning the town of Marana is currently working on, according to green queen Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the coalition.

Almost 500 signatures were given to the town in December from citizens challenging the Marana Town Council’s vote to approve the rezone. The signatures checked out, and the fate of the Hardy Wash will be left to Marana voters, in March 2009. If the voters defeat the rezone, the original zoning–that allows one house per 25 acres–will be reinstated.

Trouble is, Lawrence Schubart, a lawyer for DeAnza parent company Red Point Development, recently contacted Marana town attorney Frank Cassidy to let him know they’ll sue if the town puts the referendum on the ballot. The lawyer contends the signatures were not filed on time. The Town Council is slated to discuss the possible lawsuit in executive session on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

“This development (would destroy) 70 percent of the land in and around a very sensitive area, identified in the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan as an Important Riparian Area. The Town Council has a stated policy requiring rezonings in the Tortolita Fan to protect 70 percent of project sites as natural, undisturbed open space, which is essentially reversed on this development,” Campbell stated in a release. “Marana should consistently implement conservation and smart-growth tenets and require proper protection for natural areas.”

Marana residents are also concerned about the development. Carolyn Nessinger, a resident of a subdivision directly south of DeAnza, filed the referendum. Nessinger worries that “the increase in traffic created by all these new houses was not taken into consideration by Marana. Cortaro Road is a nightmare, and this development, as currently planned, will only add to the problems.”

Marana is developing a Habitat Conservation Plan, an example of which is the county’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Campbell holds up DeAnza as “a perfect example of the disconnect between Marana’s regional conservation goals and current land-use decisions being made by the town.”

Campbell says her coalition has been in talks with the developers of the DeAnza project since filing the referendum. Progress is being made on a reconfiguration of the project that would better protect the riparian area and contribute to wildlife movement within the Tortolita Fan.

“It is unfortunate that collaboration is taking place after the rezoning process,” Campbell notes. “The Town Council could have directed staff and the developer to address our issues, but failed to take a leadership role.”

Campbell and Nessinger, though, think it a bad sign when a threat seems like the only way to get Marana and some developers to listen to their concerns.

Then from the Sonoran Conservation’s web site – a reprint from the 2007 Explorer story. 

Furor erupts over Marana housing plan

Depending on what Red Point is willing to change, citizens may drop the referendum.

NW Explorer

By: Eric Beidel

November 28, 2007

A future housing development in Marana has come under fire from conservationists and neighbors, who say the town council approved plans last month with little regard for the environment and neighboring homes.

Environmentalists and neighbors say that the planned development represents another example of Marana’s haphazard planning. They say that the plan ignores the consequences of building on sensitive lands and would create a traffic nightmare.

The council on Oct. 2 voted unanimously to rezone 133 acres east of Interstate 10 and just north of Cortaro Road. The action created the DeAnza Specific Plan, which calls for a 311-lot subdivision by Red Point Development.

The town disagrees and says the planned development represents an exciting new kind of subdivision for Southern Arizona, one that balances suburban living and natural open spaces.

Carolyn Nessinger, a resident in nearby Cortaro Ranch, has begun collecting signatures in an effort to have voters settle the matter.

The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection opposes the DeAnza plan, too.

Citizens have until Dec. 9 to collect about 600 signatures. The issue could appear on a March ballot.

“The referendum is really on the town,” coalition Executive Director Carolyn Campbell said. “It’s really just trying to keep them honest.”

Campbell is one of many working with the town to create a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), which aims to create a specific give-and-take process between the environment and development.

However, she says the town seems to ignore the very principals it seeks to create with the HCP.

Red Point Development owns the property now rezoned for the subdivision. The company has clashed with environmentalists before.

North of the DeAnza project lies more than 1,000 acres dubbed Cascada, which borders an important wildlife corridor. After much wrangling, Red Point decided it would not build houses on 15 acres near an Interstate 10 underpass that animals use to avoid traffic.

It appears Red Point is bending again to environmentalists’ wills.

The company has a meeting this week with Campbell and the coalition to discuss possible changes to its DeAnza plan.

Red Point probably will reduce the housing density on the site, going from 311 units to about 250, General Manager Larry Kreis said.

This would create more open space, a major sticking point for those who oppose the plan.

Pima County has spent more than $3 million in the area buying land from developers to keep it free of homes. The theory is that one open space eventually abuts another, creating connectivity for wildlife between mountain habitats.

The DeAnza plan currently calls for 31 percent of undisturbed open space, not even half of what environmentalists want.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has earmarked the property for 70 to 80 percent open space.

Portions of the Hardy Wash run through the property. The wash contains an important riparian habitat and provides a corridor in which wildlife can move, environmentalists say.

As it stands, the DeAnza plan calls for turning some of that sensitive habitat into a cement drainage channel. This would destroy all of the riparian areas on the site, environmentalists contend.

The wash already has fallen victim to beer bottles, four-wheelers and other trash. And a portion of the wash’s banks that divides the DeAnza property from existing houses in Cortaro Ranch has begun to erode.

This has created a fear among Cortaro Ranch residents of flooding from the Tortolita Mountains.

The drainage channel will protect both future residents and Cortaro Ranch from any flooding, Marana Planning Director Kevin Kish said.

As a condition of the council’s approval, the town requires the developer to remove non-native plants and trash in the wash and to add native plants.

“After years of abuse and neglect to this natural open space, enhancement” is crucial to providing habitat, preserving wildlife corridors and protecting the natural flow of the Hardy Wash, Kish said.

Red Point has done its best, but the property’s elongated shape limits what the developer can preserve, Kreis said.

It seems unfair, he added, for developers to bend over backwards for conservation requirements that have not yet been finalized.

The HCP will create a scenario where developers must adhere to certain open-space requirements and offer mitigation for building in sensitive areas. But the plan probably will not go into effect for at least another year.

“It’s really hard to implement something that’s not approved yet,” Kreis said. “But we’re really trying to do something unique with this property.”

Red Point plans to use a “coving” subdivision design to give the neighborhood more green areas than pavement and to avoid monotonous “gridded-out rectangles,” Kreis said.

While Red Point seems willing to satisfy environmental requests, any potential changes should have been addressed before the Marana council approved the plans, Campbell said.

“We have more success dealing with developers than the council itself,” she said.

Town staff addressed all environmental and traffic concerns, officials said.

The developer will add turn lanes on Hartman Lane at all entrances to the DeAnza project, officials said, and most of the open space for the project will be preserved along the most sensitive areas of the Hardy Wash.

“This project has been many years in the planning process to effectively address identified issues and concerns,” Kish said. The project shows how Marana can balance development and environment by taking into account all safety and health concerns, he added.

Still, citizens have been going door-to-door to gather signatures.

The referendum effort could go to the ballot, or the threat of it could precipitate change, Campbell said.

 

In other words, “I’ll make such a mess of the development that the builder will be on their knees when I come to them. They’ll ask for 30% open space, I’ll demand 80% and that the builder buy 500 acres across town for perminant open space.” 

Did she really say that they are using the threat of going to ballot to achieve their desired outcome. Sounds like blatant ABUSE OF THE SYSTEM to me. What do you think?

 

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