Despite overwhelming public opposition that included 640 written protests from 384 households in the area of Sabino Canyon and Cloud roads, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on May 6 to approve a rezoning that will allow for the development of 130 one-story, three-bedroom luxury rental homes.
The board’s decision came after the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-3 in March to deny the project, citing concerns with traffic overload and inadequate water supply.
However, further research convinced the majority of the board that those concerns could or would be resolved before development.
Since the planning commission’s vote, the developer, Sabino Canyon Road Properties, also made a compromise to address resident concerns over the property’s housing density.
The initial plans called for 169 homes on the 15.14-acre property, which was rezoned from suburban ranch to mixed-dwelling usage.
District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller, who was the lone dissenter on the item, said that compromise came too late in the game, and didn’t allow enough time for area residents to consider the new information. She voted to delay a motion until residents had the chance to grasp a better understanding of the compromise.
“The residents in this area in a very large number are expressing concerns,” she said. “They’re not against development. They recognize the right to develop the land. Their biggest concern is that they have not had enough time to review it and understand it.”
Miller’s statements about the project timeline prompted Bob Gunino, one of the project representatives and property owners, to fire back. He claimed to have attempted contact with Miller prior to the changes, but said that she never returned his calls.
Miller denied Gunino’s claim, saying she returned his call and left a voicemail but did not hear back. Eventually, Board Chair Sharon Bronson intervened to prevent further arguing.
A total of 20 speakers presented during public hearing, the majority of which urged the board to reject the development.
Some said homes in the area would be devalued by the project. Others questioned traffic safety issues, saying the project would exacerbate the already existing problem of motorists passing through neighborhoods to avoid traffic congestion on main streets.
Those who spoke in favor of the project said the compromise provided the best option, and that other developments on the property, such as a retail store, would decrease home values more than the construction of rental homes.
Economic growth was another reason some said they supported the project.
“We need the jobs, we need the revenues,” said area resident Bill Tong. “When you see a good, smart development, it’s a good decision to move forward with it. I’ve seen them address many of the concerns since the project started.”
Before voting in favor of the item, District 5 Supervisor Richard Elias responded to some speaker’s positions against rental housing in the area.
“Nobody wants their neighborhood to change,” he said. “There are a lot of other reasons you might be opposed to this project and I was glad to hear people articulate those but solely being rental housing is not one of them. It’s against the law.”
The development is scheduled to begin in about three month’s time.