Despite the protests of neighbors and a 5-0 recommendation to deny from its planning commission, the Marana Town Council voted 4-2 Tuesday to allow a higher density of houses on 58.4 acres of land east of Wade Road and immediately north of Ina Road.
The council approved a zone change that would allow 39 single-family home sites on lots of varying sizes within a rectangle of land owned by the Cardinal Revocable Living Trust. Council members Jon Post, Patti Comerford, Herb Kai and Mayor Ed Honea voted for the rezoning; council members Carol McGorray and Russell Clanagan voted against it. Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler was absent.
"They're pulling the wool over your eyes," resident Dean Reardon shouted to the council after its vote. "They're full of lies and misrepresentations."
Comerford recalled the initial proposal from developer Bud Cardinal earlier this decade. That plan generated "a steady flow of concerned residents" to her workplace, she said.
"He's coming back with a lower density," Comerford said. "This is a major improvement compared to the last one."
On Aug. 26, the Marana Planning Commission recommended 5-0 the zone change be denied. That vote came after public comment from neighbors and wildlife enthusiasts who said the plan would reduce habitat and wildlife corridors. Some of those same people spoke to the council Tuesday.
Judith Meyer, president of the Tucson Mountains Association, said it's important to "maintain this porousness you have" with the lower-density zoning. With higher-density development, "you radically reduce the wildlife corridors," Myer said. Given heat, drought and global warming, "our wildlife need broader corridors to have access to the Santa Cruz River."
Ed Verburg, vice president of the association, said of three identified "major" wildlife corridors within the parcel, "two are not all that usable" because they're not wide enough.
"This is a major wildlife issue, and you need to think about it," Verburg said.
Neighbor Reardon, who works in construction and has lived in the area since 1977 when "Ina Road was dirt," said he does not object "to the growth we have seen." But higher-density housing "is not in keeping with the existing properties.
"I ask it be considered where that sort of thing can go on, and where we stop putting in dense housing," Reardon said. "We don't need the destruction of the nature we're basically out there to enjoy."
Rocky Webster, a resident since the early 1980s, said each subsequent housing development has "diminished the quality of life," with more light and traffic. "Nobody is really against development," Webster said. "What we are suggesting is it be developed under the current zoning."
Jack Neubeck of The Planning Center represented Cardinal. Neighborhood meetings were conducted. Bud Cardinal, who has owned the property for 20 years, agrees with certain conditions set forth by town staff.
"The original density was much higher," Neubeck said. "We've listened to the neighbors, and to the concerns." Allowable building heights have been reduced from 25 to 21 feet. The developer would go to lengths to protect washes and wildlife corridors, Neubeck said. Some of the homes would have basements, "one of the greenest things you can do." And "a lot of time and effort has gone into feathering of the density.
"Anybody who knows Mr. Cardinal's projects, he always does a quality project," Neubeck said.
"Projects to the north have higher density," he continued. "A lot of the damage has already been done."
Access to a sewer system is available. Marana Water would serve the development, which is within the Northwest Fire District.
Marana worker honored by state after- school group
A Town of Marana Parks and Recreation employee has been recognized by a state association for her work.
Jen Ward is a recreation coordinator in after-school programming for the town. In October, she received the Jan Romatzke Leadership Award from the Arizona Center for After School Excellence as "the #1 provider in the state," according to Marana Parks and Recreation Director Tom Ellis.
A nomination form indicated Ward is "a leader who advocates for the after-school field." Her "heart is committed to youth."
Ward has a degree in physical education from Ohio University. She has worked with children for more than 20 years.