Updated: Aug 2
The Tortolita Preserve has mysteriously disappeared from all maps in the Final Draft of the Make Marana 2040 General Plan. Rest assured the land is, in fact, still there. I hiked it last week. So, why the erasure?
The Marana planners have mentioned three reasons, dare I say excuses, for their brazen deletion of our lovely open space from their latest maps. One is that the Tortolita Preserve does not constitute "Open Space" as defined in the Plan, two, is that negotiations with the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) are ongoing and may change the boundaries, and three, is that state law prohibits calling state land a "Preserve" because it implies perpetuity.
All three of these reasons are easily dealt with.
For one, Marana could easily add a land use type called "Open Space - Not in Perpetuity". The planners could apply such a designation to the Tortolita Preserve land and put it back on their maps.
Secondly, the ongoing, but very intermittent, negotiations between Marana and the ASLD have gone absolutely nowhere. The ASLD has an ironclad 43-page lease with Marana and has no incentive whatsoever to give Marana any kind of a break on the deal. Marana hasn't liked any alternative that the ASLD has offered. There is an extremely low probability of the lease changing. The planners should go with the higher probability of it remaining "as is" and return the Tortolita Preserve to their maps.
Finally, since the Marana planners are correct about state law, they could easily put a footnote next to the name "Tortolita Preserve" and explain in the footnote that the property is in fact subject to a 99-year lease with the ASLD. Even the ASLD itself delineates the property on their maps from other state land that is not leased. Then the planners could return the Tortolita Preserve to its rightful place on their maps.
The Make Marana 2040 General plan is up for discussion by the Marana Planning Commission on 11/20 at 6:30pm at the Marana Municipal Complex. If you want the Tortolita Preserve back on all Marana's maps in the Final Draft of the Make Marana 2040 General Plan, come to that meeting and speak up. Please help ensure that the existing Tortolita Preserve is conserved for the long-term.