Marana residents have the opportunity to affect the next two decades of their town’s development. The “Make Marana 2040” General Plan entered its 60-day review period for public comment on Monday, July 29. Over the next two months, until Friday, Sept. 27, the public can provide comments that have the chance to become amendments to this plan.
During this review cycle, residents can view the entire tentative general plan and offer their comments and critiques. This public input will then be presented to the Town Council at the end of the review cycle this October.
The general plan’s vision statement asserts: “The Town will grow in a manner that ensures safety and promotes healthy living through development that improves our community.” But what does this mean for specific plans?
“It’s the future growth and development plans for the town,” said Marana Development Services Director Jason Angell. “We are looking at new structures and utilities, and how new services can be provided for the town. It examines all the areas that are on the cusp of development for the next 20 years.”
The general plan is divided into three core sections: Built Environment, People and Community and Resources and Sustainability. While these are separated for clarity’s sake, the General Plan includes plenty of overlap between these sections.
Marana’s population is expected to exceed 50,000 in the next 10 years. As such, a large amount of the general plan details expansion strategies. According to Angell, Marana is in a unique position in that it straddles the Pinal County line, and future growth and annexation plans must take this into account.
Actions associated with the General Plan include evaluating traffic interchanges along I‐10 and the proposed I‐11 Corridor for community and commercial development, planning a transportation hub for I-10, developing an annexation policy for town growth, establishing a bicycle safety program, constructing several hiking trails, constructing rainwater cisterns and solar panels, drafting wildlife-sensitive development policies and much more.
Angell anticipates the sections to receive most public input will be the I-11 Corridor, which is being planned out by the Arizona Department of Transportation; boundary expansions toward Pinal County; major transport routes; and environmental considerations.
“We will look at what the common themes are, and discuss them with the council to see what changes need to be made,” Angell said. “I think a lot of changes can come from it … We want the public to be aware of what we’re doing. We’d always like more participation.”
Marana Mayor Ed Honea said the general plan is an important document as it acts as a kind of user guide to the town, for both residents and developers, to better conceptualize the long term vision for different areas of town.
Honea said resident input improves the plan.
“Everybody’s input is important,” he said. “And a lot of times, they are able to see something that you don’t see. You’re too close to the plan, and John or Jane Smith come in and they say, ‘Oh, you know, we’ve really dodged a bullet on drainage in Continental Reserve the last couple years’—or whatever it is—and you stop and look at those kinds of things.”
This review process is not the first public input for the General Plan. Starting in October 2018, the town organized several public workshops, open houses and online surveys to identify what the public saw as priorities and to receive input on policy alternatives.
In addition, the current draft of the General Plan was sent to 25 different agencies for their input, including Pima County, homeowners associations and cycling groups.
Marana’s General Plan may be amended to respond to “changing socioeconomic needs, environmental factors, market conditions, or other influences associated with growth.” These amendments are classified as either major or minor. The town council may only consider major amendments once a year at a single public hearing held specifically for that purpose, whereas minor amendments can be processed concurrently with a rezoning request and approved at a public hearing by a simple majority vote of the town council.
“The biggest challenge in all of this is figuring out where we’re going to go as a community,” Angell said. “We have to put enough flexibility in the plan to be able to shift gears when or if necessary.”
The current, tentative date for the General Plan’s confirmation is primary election day: Aug. 4, 2020. However, Angell said if substantial changes need to be made to the plan as a result of public input, this date can be pushed back.
Ultimately, the Make Marana 2040 General Plan will be effective following ratification by the voters through a general election. The plan will then be effective for 10 years, after which the town council can either adopt a new plan or readopt the existing plan.
“We welcome any and all feedback, and we want the public to recognize that the general plan is still a draft,” Angell said. “We want to make sure this really does reflect the wants and needs of the town.”
To read the entire proposed “Make Marana 2040 General Plan” document and to provide feedback, visit maranaaz.gov/make-marana-2040. Printed drafts of the proposed plan are also available at the Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Library and Marana Municipal Complex Administration Building.