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  • Writer's pictureMark L. Johnson

TA Tidbits #13-Out Of The Thicket

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

Did you know that Marana means "thicket" (dense growth of shrubs, bushes and small trees) in spanish? Recently, there has been lots of news in Marana and it looks like they are finally coming out of the Thicket!

Town Manager Resigns & Replaced By Police Chief

Jamsheed Mehta resigned as Town Manager on 10/20/20 and will be replaced on an interim basis by Terry Rozema (Police Chief). Terry Rozema has an excellent reputation as a fantastic manager and police chief and is a good choice to provide a smooth transition and restore morale within Marana's departments.

Ruben Nuñez (Deputy Police Chief) was selected to serve as the interim police chief.

TA will request a meeting with Terry after he has a chance to settle into his new position. We are hopeful that he will listen to our concerns, support our mission and work with TA on various projects and efforts within Marana. We are especially interested in getting the various Master Plans associated with the new General Plan underway.

Town Attorney Retires

Frank Cassidy (Town Attorney) was honored by Proclamation on his retirement at the 10/20/20 Town Council Meeting. TA reached out to Frank on many occasions regarding various legal documents and interpretations. He was always prompt, courteous and professional. We wish him the best of luck in his retirement.

We assume, Jane Fairall (Deputy Town Attorney) will be taking his place. Our dealings with Jane have also been prompt, courteous and professional.

Jackie Craig Swearing In

Thankfully, Councilperson Dave Bowen is out of the Thicket, along with his philosophy of "Growth At Any Cost".

Jackie Craig will be sworn in as our new Town Councilmember on 11/4/30. We are confident that Jackie will bring much needed professionalism to the Town Council. She has fresh ideas and supports "smart growth", i.e. not rooftops on every square inch of land.

Her presence at Town Council meetings will provide the positive example of decorum and hopefully eliminate the ongoing unprofessional and childish discussions and actions by some current Town Councilmembers.

Jackie, we wish you all the best!

Tortolita 30 Rezoning Approved

Despite heavy opposition from TA, Coalition For Sonoran Desert Protection (CSDP), Bean Tree Farm and many residents, the Town Council approved the Tortolita 30 rezoning on 10/20/20. Incredibly, Marana ignored wildlife corridor, housing density and traffic issues.

For example, the developer is now conditioned to install a roundabout at the intersection of Tortolita Road and Moore Road. Yet the traffic report said it might mitigate traffic and should only be considered after doing additional traffic counts when the traffic light is installed at intersection of Moore Road and Dove Mountain Blvd. Go figure? This project should have been rejected on this basis alone.

During the Town Council discussion on Tortolita 30, we got to hear once again two lectures on property rights and development from certain Councilmembers that we have heard many times before. These lectures are insulting and deserve some additional discussion.

The Adjacent Property Rights Lecture

TA is particularly tired of the "adjacent property rights" lectures we get from certain Councilmembers on these development projects. What about the existing property owners rights?

There is a philosophy by current Marana Town Councilmembers that more rooftops will pay for committed or un-built infrastructure of which Marana has no cash. This was evident at the 10/13/20 Study Session.

Let's use Tortolita 30 Rezoning as an example. The proposed roundabout may fix traffic delays at the Tortolita Road and Moore Road intersection and the cost will be borne by the Tortolita 30 developer (DR Horton). They in turn, will pass these costs onto the future owners of the 82 homes. DR Horton admitted at the public hearing that mitigation is required at this intersection even if Tortolita 30 is not built! Therefore, existing traffic issues were caused by the construction of the MUSD STEM School.

If Marana was on the ball, they would have required the traffic studies for the STEM School to include analysis of mitigation at the Tortolita Road/Moore Road intersection. Let's assume the STEM School was required to put in proper mitigation at this intersection. Then Tortolita 30 would not have to foot the bill for the roundabout and less houses could be built. Planning Commission Chairman Schnee and Councilmember Kai were correct in recommending a lower RAC (number of houses per acre). This would allow more open space and less traffic. A win-win situation. But no, the Town Council decided to fix yet another prior mistake by allowing more rooftops to pay for infrastructure that should have been built by others. This a tragedy and a philosophy that must change.

Wait to the potential lot owners in Tortolita 30 find out they are paying for a roundabout that should have been paid for by the MUSD STEM school and maybe doesn't even work! More to come on this one.

The Yellow Jeep Lecture

TA is also tired of the "Yellow Jeep" lecture whereby we have to sit and listen to the story about David Mehl taking certain Councilmembers on a tour of the proposed Dove Mountain development vision in the late 1990's. OK, thanks for developing Dove Mountain with its beautiful scenery, hiking/trails and open space including the 2,400 acre Tortolita Preserve. This is why we moved here.

However, less than a year after moving here (for many of us) the Thicket proposed to reconfigure and rezone the Tortolita Preserve and establish a General Planning Area (GPA) for the entire area, thus breaking that promise that enticed us to come here. Fortunately, TA and its members were able to reverse those proposals.

As reported in Dove Mountain Development Status-July 2020, the Dove Mountain Specific Plan (and 9 Amendments) is approved for a maximum of 9,159 lots over 6,207 acres. The current Dove Mountain Subdivision Activity Report provided to TA by Marana shows that 6,134 lots have been platted (available for construction) with 4,855 of those lots permitted (homes built) and 1,171 lots are vacant.

The Dove Mountain Specific Plan is only 67% built-out! There are 3,025 (9,159 - 6,134 = 3,025) potential lots to be platted. Turning these potential lots into viable subdivision projects will have to overcome rigorous design and permitting issues and any related housing economics. Time will tell.

For sure, with 1,171 vacant platted lots available and 3,025 potential lots to be platted, there appears plenty of potential housing available just within the existing Dove Mountain Specific Plan. You have to question the need for advancing any additional specific plans/housing projects in the Dove Mountain region at least until the Dove Mountain Specific Plan is built-out and that may be many, many years to come.

Tortolita Preserve Cattle Issue

Lieutenant Tim Brunenkant (Marana PD) recently reported to TA that he has been in touch with the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) and that a meeting is scheduled with the cattle rancher, ASLD and Arizona Game & Fish on site on 10/26/20. The rancher has a water tank in the western end of the Tortolita Preserve which will be relocated along with the cattle. The cattle are doing much damage to the vegetation in TP and represent a safety hazard for hikers and bikers. Let's hope that they can solve this problem quickly and efficiently.


So there you have it. One Town Councilperson, One Town Manager and One Town Attorney out of the Thicket. One New Councilperson, One Interim Town Manager and One New Town Attorney to start soon and let's hope they stay out of the Thicket and bring fresh ideas and new spirit to Marana!


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