Land in Marana inevitably will come in the path of growth, and town officials say they don't want to stand back and let developers call the shots when that time comes.

That's why they've taken the initiative of seeking rigorous residential design standards, which were discussed in concept at a March 12 study session with architect Vern Swaback.

If Marana wants to choose its own destiny and create a sustainable community for the future, it must provide long-term goals and standards - not short-term standards by which developers' needs are catered to parcel by parcel, Swaback's plans suggest.

Marana is hoping to stray away from the repetitiveness of having row after row of identical houses that create the look of production or "sameness." Plans presented by Swaback include design standards that are intended to foster the look of a creative, unique community.

"What we are trying to do is offer a more appeasing and more appealing streetscape in our neighborhoods," said councilman Ed Honea, who also said he hopes in the next month or two the Marana Town Council will grant approval of a finalized version of the plans.

The proposed standards would incorporate parks and open spaces into the fabric of neighborhoods, rather than take leftover space and "call it a park."

Paths and trails that link neighborhood components and amenities together would be integrated, and there would be no isolated trails that are not part of the neighborhood fabric.

Landscaping plans call for visually enhancing the character of neighborhoods by complementing the community, rather than having "engineered" landscape treatments that de-emphasize aesthetics and highlight roads.

Visually interesting perimeter landscaping would see its way into buffer zones that screen properties, as an alternative to nondescript walls with minimal tree planting and ground plane treatment.

Perimeter walls to neighborhoods also would incorporate more character and have attractive details and landscaping, rather than be large, nondescript walls that resemble barriers. Plans presented to council members show a more artistic approach that includes, for example, a large fish featured on a stone wall alongside a street.

Neighborhood street plans stress avoiding the isolation of residents and vehicular circulation. Landscaped medians would find their way into collector streets, providing a more friendly and attractive look to neighborhoods.

A proposed "tree plan" for local streets calls for increasing attractiveness and avoiding sparse tree planting of non-native species that look "tired, stressed and inappropriate."

In hopes of having more pedestrian-friendly main streets, neighborhood standards stress the preference of alley parking to unattractive, linear parking lots.

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