Council takes up trailhead dispute - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Council takes up trailhead dispute

Town pins developer's request on access to isolated hiking area

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Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 12:00 am

Developers of the gated community Stone Canyon have requested a change to the town’s general plan to allow for greater housing densities in an undeveloped portion of the northwest Oro Valley country club.

If approved, the amendment would change land use details of the 127-acre area and increase the number of homes allowed from 38 to 150. Any new development would be subject to town development review and zoning procedures.

A point of contention of the plan has been a 2-acre town-owned trailhead to the south of the proposal area.

In 2002, property owner Vistoso Partners deeded the property to the town as part of a separate general plan amendment in a different section of Stone Canyon.

The trailhead was intended to be used as a starting point for hikers and equestrians to venture into Pima County’s Tortolita Mountain Park.

The parcel, however, has never fulfilled its intended use because private property surrounds the trailhead, which cuts off public access to the area.

The existing trailhead also has been deemed unacceptable because of the rugged, rocky terrain and a wash cutting through it that limits the usable space.

In recognition of these incongruities, town planners have attached conditions of approval that address this and numerous other issues with the subject area.

One condition of approval calls for Vistoso Partners to provide an alternative property to serve as a trailhead.

The condition requires that any new trailhead be large enough to accommodate 22 parking spaces and five spaces big enough for trucks with horse trailers.

Vistoso Partners also has requested general plan changes for another area in Rancho Vistoso.

This area, near Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and Tangerine Road, encompasses 365 acres.

The changes requested in the amendment could have the potential to add 474 more houses in the area.

Vistoso Partners asked that the change eliminate a land-use designation for a golf course in the area.

The company has also requested that a school site in the subject area be moved.

Town officials included a list of conditions with for Vistoso Partners with this amendment as well.

Those conditions also include provisions for park acreage and access to town trails.

Both trailhead conditions require connectivity to existing trails in the town, including trail No. 33 that intersects with trails leading into Tortolita Mountain Park.

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