More than 100 residents overflowed the Picture Rocks Community Center on Tuesday, Sept. 14, to voice their opposition to a proposed RV park on 75 acres near Saguaro National Park West.
The RV park would be located on Tula Lane, between Picture Rocks and Rudasill roads, on a lot that is currently undeveloped and less than a mile from the National Park’s border.
But before those plans can proceed, the Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission must recommend a zoning change from the current Medium Intensity Rural to Rural Crossroads land use designation, and then recommend that the Pima County Board of Supervisors approve a rezoning to the Trailer Homesite designation specifically for an RV park. The parcel is currently zoned for 48 houses.
The proposal will go to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday, Sept. 29.
Tuesday night’s meeting came after Pima County Development Services recommended approval of the RV park’s initial plans for rezoning. Neighbors and concerned residents crowded inside the Community Center with picket signs like “No No No to Rezone” and “No RVs!” The residents’ main concerns included the environmental impact of an RV park, crowding of the small adjacent streets, and noise and light pollution.
“The response has been much more than we thought,” said Tom Guido, with T and T Engineering who represents the landowner. “So we decided to delay the Planning and Zoning Commission we had originally scheduled for late August, to give folks a chance to ask questions and air concerns. We wanted to see what the community was thinking and worried about.”
Firstly, residents brought up the potential environmental impacts of a 200 RV park in rural Picture Rocks. While T and T Engineering says the parcel has been assured a 100-year water supply by Avra Valley Water, they may need a retention pond to deal with all the park’s waste. In addition, the rezoning would also require setting aside two thirds of the lot as open space to be able to continue. Guido argued the plan had set this amount aside, but room between the RVs is also considered open space, to the audience’s dissent.
In the public Planning and Zoning Commission staff report, Saguaro National Park chief of science Jeff Conn stated that three areas of focus for the park are light pollution, noise pollution, and invasive species.
Residents also expressed concern about large RVs maneuvering the small, rural roads of Picture Rocks, with one resident shouting, “It’s going to take an RV park to get our roads fixed?” Of particular concern is the winding Picture Rocks Road, which snakes through the National Park, connecting Ina Road with the Picture Rocks area. The property owner argued that they’d tell the potential RV visitors to take the easier Sandario and Rudasill roads. But residents said visitors would likely just follow their GPS, which would take them on the shorter, more precarious route.
Finally, the crowd also worried about the population that may come to the park, referring to them as “transients.” Concerns range from RVs being abandoned to pets getting out to visitors walking through neighboring properties to get to Saguaro National Park. The landlord aims to avoid these by marketing the park as a “luxury” park, and only allowing RVs built within the past decade.
Local residents stated they were not against any and all development on the property. Alternate suggestions included subdividing the parcel, building a community park or simply building out the 48 houses without the need for rezoning.
“This would be a disaster to the wildlife and the community. I’ve never seen people go to an RV park that is so far off the interstate,” said Bob Musgrave, who lives near the proposed park. “The housing market is so lively in Tucson, and it makes me wonder why they’d give up 50 housing lots to turn them into 200 RV lots. That doesn’t make sense to me.”