There is a proposed development in Ward 2 that has been getting a lot of attention lately. It is at the Northeast corner of Tanque Verde and Houghton. I wanted to share some background and some of my thoughts on this proposal.
Back in 2016 we annexed 349 acres around Tanque Verde and Houghton that was primarily for a planned development called Desert Willow Ranch. Right in the middle of the annexation district was an 11 acre parcel owned by a different owner than most of the rest of the district. At the time the developer assured nearby residents and city staff that they intended to seek RX-1 zoning (¾ acre minimum lot size) for a small development of 14 or 15 units on the site. I made the motion to approve the annexation and my colleagues on the council unanimously agreed.
A few years ago, that developer came to me with a proposal to develop 88 townhomes on the site and he was met with resistance from the neighbors. I told him that I couldn’t support the plan either. They went back to the drawing board and came back with a proposal of 37 units. I had spoken to some of the neighbors and they indicated that they were flexible and open to dialogue with the developer, but that they were concerned about flooding in and around the site and also about traffic and neighborhood aesthetics. They said they could live with 25-27 units on the site. I thought the two parties’ positions were close enough that we might be able to come up with a proposal that everyone could live with. I am sad to say that that did not happen.
We had a number of meetings in my office and initially it seemed like we were going to find a compromise. Back in July, I convinced the developer to delay their Zoning Examiner hearing by a month to give more time for dialogue between the parties. In the end, though the developer reduced their number of units to 33, we did not find a compromise that everyone was pleased with.
In my mind, without a new agreement between my office, the immediate neighbors and the developer, we revert to the 2016 promise of RX-1 zoning. Many times, my colleagues and I are faced with a zoning request that is at odds with an annexation agreement decades in the past. It is rare to not only have an agreement so recent, but one that involves the same developer.
It isn’t just me having trouble with the 2016 agreement, it was the primary reason that our zoning examiner recommended that my colleagues and I not approve the rezoning.
I won’t be supporting any development at Tanque Verde and Houghton that increases flood hazards. I also won’t be supporting a proposal that violates the spirit of the 2016 agreement without the agreement of the neighbors.
I talk a lot about annexation in Southern Arizona. I encourage unincorporated County residents to consider joining us in the City of Tucson, another existing town or to form an entirely new town. This development is about keeping the city’s promises to the community and showing that our annexation promises are worth more than the paper the ordinance is printed on.