proposed dog rescue facility on rural property in Pima County’s Northwest side that’s adjacent to a high-density Marana neighborhood has some of the Marana homeowners concerned, even before the dog organization files for a conditional use permit.

Baby Animal Rescue Koalition (BARK) of Tucson intends to file for two conditional use permits on 3.5 acres of property to allow for a manufactured home as a caretaker’s house and converted semi-trailer boxes for use as kennels, said Sarah Kelder, one of BARK’s co-directors.

The property in question is at 7725 N. Artesiano Rd., a dirt roadway located entirely in unincorporated Pima County where land is zoned SR (Suburban Ranch), a low-density single-family residential zone where minimum lot sizes are 3.3 acres and undisturbed natural areas are preserved. It abuts the southern boundary of Continental Reserve.

“A long-time supporter, Alice Warren, died and left us property,” Kelder said. “this is what she wanted — something that would benefit homeless dogs. We had discussed a facility like this with her.”

BARK had circulated a letter to residents on N. Artesiano Road asking them not to object to the conditional use permit. That letter, along with a proposed site plan, location map, and photos of the kennels and caretaker’s residence subsequently was circulated to residents of Continental Reserve and the Sierra-Crest-Ridge Neighborhood homeowner’s association members by Lewis Management Resources, the HOA’s management firm.

The email transmittal read, in part, “The property at 7725 N. Artesiano is requesting variances from Pima County Zoning Division to install a dog sanctuary of up to 100 dogs behind Continental Reserve. This property is very close to the community and will have a major impact on the homeowners near by.”

The email directed individuals to send a letter to Pima County Zoning Division if residents were opposed to the project.

Officials at Lewis Management Resources declined to comment for this story. Some residents of Continental Reserve voiced their concern over the proposed dog facility, but would not comment for the record, nor allow their names to be used.

Kelder noted the maximum number of dogs the facility would house would be 20, and that BARK did not anticipate housing any other types of animals on the property. 

“We’re not trying to disrupt the neighborhood with barking dogs,” she said. “There will be a person on site to take care of the animals and they will be inside at night with the doggie doors to the outdoor runs locked. We also will use a white noise machine inside the kennels to distract the dogs from outside noises.”

Kelder said she also expects the entire 3.5 acres to be surrounded by a six-foot high fence to keep out wild animals.

“We also want to be neighborhood friendly, so people will be able to use our facility as a dog park area at scheduled times,” she added.

Tom Drzazgowski, deputy chief zoning inspector for Pima County Development Services, said that to date, no conditional use permit has been applied for on the property at 7725 N. Artesiano.

“Once the property owners file the paperwork and pay the $887 filing fee, then a public hearing would be held to determine if the use meets certain standards and if it would be allowed,” Drzazgowski said. “All the property owners within 1,000 feet of the property seeking the conditional use permit would be notified of the public hearing.”

Drzazgowski pointed out the hearing administrator is independent from Pima County.

“The administrator will take public testimony and get information from the applicants about their site plan and a detailed description of what’s proposed for the property,” he said. “The property owner speaks first at the hearing, then the public is allowed to speak, and the property owner gets a final chance to speak.”

Drzazgowski noted that the parcels to the southeast and southwest of 7725 N. Artesiano are “rural, low-density parcels zoned Suburban Ranch. But immediately to the north (in Marana), the lots are high density lots of about 5,000 square feet per parcel.”

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When you see the dog whisperer show and see how he's got this sprawling ranch, you kind of get the idea that a small house in the suburbs or even in the city just might not cut it as a rehabilitation facility, despite the good intentions. Taking care of dogs requires a lot of equipment and stock in storage to feed and care for them at the end of the day!

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