Posts Tagged ‘Huckleberry’

28th March
2009
written by JHiggins

From todays Arizona Republic – Despite a horrid economy, there’s no shortage of interest to build the Arizona Diamondbacks a new spring-training facility, expected to cost more than $100 million and possibly be shared with the Colorado Rockies……

The situation in Tucson, however, has become tense with Hall and Pima County’s top executive trading barbs. After the Diamondbacks sought proposals for a new facility last month, Pima County Administrator C.H. Huckelberry wrote a March 12 letter to county officials.

Huckelberry, who could not be reached Friday, wrote it was “disturbing” that the D-Backs sought a new facility when the franchise “makes a private profit of nearly $3 million on spring training.”

This week, Hall responded to Huckleberry’s letter, writing that the team made less than $1 million in profits and that its facilities “have never been maintained to adequate levels” and “provided risk and caused injuries” to players.

“It is clear to us now that you have moved on and are not seeking a solution for keeping us in Southern Arizona,” Hall wrote. “I also assume you have not been working with the city to help keep the Rockies in Tucson, as they continue to become more and more impatient.”

A Tucson spokesman said the city had no update on negotiations with the Rockies.

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.

 

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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?

 

18th December
2008
written by madge

Read Chuck Huckleberry’s opinion letter to The Explorer newspaper HERE.

There has been an ongoing dispute over control of the Arroyo Grande development. Arroyo Grande will ultimately be filled with 6000 houses. The border of Arroyo Grande go from north Oro Valley all the way past Catalina to the Pinal County line.  At issue is how much open space will be set aside in the development.

Pima County was pushing for control and OV ultimately wanted to control the development. Having future growth occur in a city makes more sense than expanding unincorporated Pima County.

From the opinion;

I apologize if any of my remarks may have been interpreted to cast blame on any entity or individual. They were not intended to do so. In the present circumstance it is nobody’s fault, but really everybody’s fault. It will be a tragedy if we all went through the difficult and trying process to develop consensus on Arroyo Grande and the end result is our complete failure to produce the open space the public was promised.

Chuck Huckelberry is the Pima County administrator.

9th December
2008
written by madge

Pima County continues it’s power grab (or hold) by getting in the middle of area towns ability to manage their own destiny. What’s behind the meddling?  – The Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP).

Currently there are two major projects that two local towns are trying to control. The first up near Oro Valley – the state owned Arroyo Grande property could potentially build up to 6000 homes in a master planned community leading up to the Pinal County the second is near Sahuarita and could potentially become a 15,000 home development. 

In both cases Pima County officials are stirring the pot and in the case of Sahurita actively competing with the town that wishes to annex the new development.  The county is allowing the developer to play one government entity off the next.  What the county wants is the developers agreement to purchase “offsetting” open space acreage well away from the current development.  By keeping a hand in the deal they are essentially forcing the developer and the town leadership to agree to the open space off sets in order to get the development off the ground. Now the county is offering discounted impact fees to push Sahurita into a corner to match the deal or loose the control.

 

 

Mission Peaks goes before county board Tuesday

By Philip Franchine, Sahuarita Sun

Published: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 10:31 PM MST – HERE

 

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has said that in general the county supports putting urban-scale development into towns and cities. That’s in part because it makes more planning sense and also because towns and cities can collect state shared revenues and local sales taxes that Pima County cannot collect, so the region would have more resources.

However, in this case, Huckelberry has negotiated extensively with ANC, and said in a Sept. 8, 2008 letter that he would support giving them a break on a future increase in transportation impact (growth) fees that county staff has recommended. If the county board raises impact fees as recommended by staff and does not give ANC a break, or rejects the plan amendment, that would wipe out the argument the developer has advanced so far for receiving a town incentive.

If the county board approves the plan amendment and gives ANC a break on impact fees, the developer would have more leverage in pressing the town for the incentive.

Meanwhile, the County Planning and Zoning Commission in October voted unanimously to recommend against the project. Chairman Bruce Gungle derided it as a plan to put 15,000 or more units between two active mines, in an area lacking water or infrastructure, and in an area with significant biological importance under the county’s much-touted Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

Other commissioners said the dual application was an effort to play off the county and the town and the county board should reject it. Gungle also said he was upset that county staff were supportive of the proposal and said he felt they were getting pressure from “upstairs,” presumably meaning Huckelberry.

Sahuarita Vice Mayor Phillip Conklin said he wishes the town had not allowed the developer to move ahead with two identical proposals at the same time, and hopes it will not permit future developers to do so.

If the town wants to approve the plan, it would next approve a pre-annexation agreement, a zoning change and an annexation agreement. The county would have to go through a rezoning process if the board approves the plan amendment on Tuesday.

A rezoning process would involve a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission and the town council and/or county board.

Huckelberry’s brief Sept. 8 letter to Dan Naef of ANC said, “I have reviewed your letter, and I concur with your summary of our conversations and your articulation of the terms of development which we have discussed.

“Based on these specific commitments, I support your project. Obviously, your development is subject to more detailed review and comment by County staff, and review, modification, and approval by both the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the Board of Supervisors,” Huckelberry said.

The letter from ANC to Huckelberry said, in part “the Developer will not be subject to any increases in the transportation impact fee or to any other transportation related fees or charges.”

pfranchine@sahuaritasun.com | 547-9738

The Pima County Board of Supervisors could hand the Town of Sahuarita a pre-Christmas present worth up to $50 million next Tuesday if the board votes down the Mission Peaks application for a county Comprehensive Plan Amendment.

A rejection would mean the developer could only seek a rezoning from the town council, which already has approved a General Plan Amendment for Mission Peaks. The plan is for 15,000 housing units on nearly 5,000 acres west of town straddling Mission Road and Twin Buttes Road.

On the other hand, the county board could allow the project to move forward under county jurisdiction as well, which would force the town to compete with the county over terms of any development.

The developer, American Nevada Co. of suburban Las Vegas, already has said it would like a development incentive or subsidy because town fees are an estimated $50 million higher than county fees.

The board of supervisors meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the board meeting room on the first floor of the county administration building, 110 W. Congress Street, Tucson. The board will be considering all Comprehensive Plan Amendment requests for 2008 at this meeting, which promises to be a lengthy one. The agenda and back-up material will be posted online at http://www.pima.gov/cob/e-agenda/index.htm.

Town officials say they are going to wind up paying for much of the congestion costs of the project – roads, police and parks – in any case, and might be better off annexing the area so they have zoning control and receive sales tax and other revenue.

 

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