Months after threatening litigation, attorneys representing developers of the DeAnza project have sued the town of Marana, claiming that the referendum to put a rezoning matter before voters is untimely.
The DeAnza Specific Plan is set to include 311 houses, near Interstate 10 and Cortaro Farms Road. The referendum to put the rezoning of the 113-acre area to voters was approved by the town council, the timing of which is the main point of contention in the suit.
G. Lawrence Schubart, the attorney for Fidelity National Title Company, representing the builder, Red Point Development, wrote to town officials on Jan. 10 that the town had until Jan. 25 to declare a rezoning referendum invalid, or else there would be legal action taken against the town.
The lawsuit was filed in Pima County Superior Court exactly three months after the original deadline.
Marana officials filed a motion to dismiss the case on May 19, arguing that two important parties, a landowner and the woman who filed the petition, should’ve been named in the case. On June 3, the plaintiffs filed an opposition to the dismissal.
If the parties are named in the case, the lawsuit will continue, said Marana Town Attorney Frank Cassidy.
The town council originally approved the rezoning in October 2007, but a petition to put the rezoning before the voters was circulated by the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, which believes the development is in an environmentally sensitive area.
The coalition had been meeting regularly with Red Point Development, who plans on building the houses, to set aside land in order to protect a nearby wash.
“They’ve made some positive changes to their development configuration in protecting Hardy Wash,” said Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the Coalition for Southern Arizona Desert Protection.
Despite the lawsuit, Campbell said representatives from Red Point were still interested in meeting to discuss environmental concerns.
The deadline for filing the referendum was Dec. 8, a Saturday, but Marana officials said that because town offices would be closed, the coalition could turn in the signatures on Monday, Dec. 10.
Schubart argues that because the petition was filed after the deadline, it should be marked as untimely filed.
Marana officials feel otherwise.
“Since the 30 days landed on a day the town is closed, we take the position that it’s pushed to the next day,” Cassidy said.
The whole case has to resolved in time for the election, which is scheduled for March 10, 2009.
Schubart did not return messages left by The Explorer.
Oct. 2, 2007: Council unanimously
approves rezoning DeAnza Specific Plan.
Dec. 10: Referendum petition filed, calling for rezoning to go before voters.
April 25, 2008: Fidelity National Title Company files lawsuit against Marana, claiming filing of referendum is too late.
May 19: Marana officials file motion to dismiss on the grounds that petitioners, landowners not named in the suit.
June 3: The developers’ attorneys filed an opposition to dismiss the case.