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  • Writer's pictureTortolita Alliance

Tangerine Road Corridor-Part I

Tangerine Road (between I-10 and Dove Mountain Boulevard) parallels the Tortolita Preserve. Therefore, it is critical that we carefully monitor the activities planned for this roadway corridor. This blog series examines these activities in terms of Land Use, Zoning, Re-Zoning, Arizona State Land Department, Water, Wastewater, Stormwater (Tortolita Fan), Wildlife, Archeological/Cultural and Tangerine Road Improvements.


Land Use

Land Use is established as part of community master planning, which identifies potential land uses by broad category. The Make Marana 2040 General Plan was approved by the voters in 2020 and categorizes the vast majority of the land to the west/south of the Tortolita Preserve and south of Tangerine Road as Low Density Residential (shaded yellow-portion of LU map).



Zoning divides the community into specific areas identified as Agricultural, Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Mixed-Use and provides detailed standards for development within these zones.

The current Interactive Marana Zoning Map categorizes Tortolita Preserve and surrounding land as Agricultural (shaded brown) and the vast majority of the open land to the south of Tangerine Road as C-Large Lot Zone (shaded light green-portion of Z map).



The existing Zoning for particular parcel(s) of land can be Re-Zoned in two ways; (1) Zoning Change, e.g., change a Residential Zone to Commercial Zone and (2) Specific Plan, i.e., site specific regulations for contiguous parcels greater than 5 acres. For example, the Dove Mountain Specific Plan (2000) covers 6,207 acres and was approved for a maximum of 9,157 residential lots, a resort and some commercial areas. Note: It appears the total lot build-out will be +/- 7,500 lots.

Re-Zoning regulations require specific development submittals along with a public hearing process (Planning Commission and Town Council).

Key Point: although there is a General Plan with identified Land Use and Zoning Regulations---they can be changed. In Marana it happens all the time and it is has been very difficult to track and impact these changes. However, we must be ever vigilant by monitoring planning and proposed Re-Zoning efforts in the Tangerine Road Corridor and intervening when necessary.


Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) Land (State Land)

Marana encompasses 77,740 acres and the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) owns 33,428 acres (43%) of that land. The map above is a screenshot from the ASLD GIS Parcel Viewer showing ASLD lands near the Tangerine Road Corridor.

Tortolita Preserve (shaded pink) is owned by ASLD and leased by the Town of Marana for 99 years (2000-2099). The Lease Payments are paid from the Bed Tax Fund (aka Hotel Tax Revenues) and are not paid for by Marana residents.

Much of the ASLD land west and north of the Tortolita Preserve are Grazing Leases (shaded solid blue). Virtually all of the ASLD land south of the Tortolita Preserve to Tangerine Road and south of Tangerine Road are Unleased Parcels (blue hatched).

Therefore, any development activity within the Tangerine Road Corridor would require ASLD approval and if sold--subject to the state auction process.

The minutes from the Marana Town Council Retreat (2/14-16/24) indicated that Marana officials met with new ASLD Commissioner Robyn Sahid. The Tortolita Preserve and surrounding lands were discussed (see Marana Retreat Newsbeat). Tortolita Alliance (TA) has filed Public Record Requests (PRRs) with Marana and ASLD to learn more about this meeting and ASLD plans for state land in the Tangerine Road Corridor.

Marana has responded to the PRR and it appears the meeting with ASLD was regarding obtaining permanent and temporary right-of-way for the Tangerine Road Improvements currently under design. More on that below.

ASLD has not yet responded to the PRR. TA will provide an update as part of a future blog in this series.



The above map comes from Marana GIS and shows the existing and future (intended) water services areas. The following key observations in the Tangerine Road Corridor are noted:

  • Tucson Water Obligated (shaded brown) cannot be expanded in Marana due to Tucson Water's Service Area Policy.

  • Marana Water Existing (shaded dark blue) currently exists in a two small areas; (1) Tangerine Business Park (south of Tangerine) and Mandarina (north of Tangerine at the I-10)

  • Marana Water Intended (shaded light blue) covers the area south of Tangerine.

  • Tortolita Preserve and surrounding lands north of Tangerine are not intended to be served by Marana Water.

The map below comes from the 2022 Water Facilities Infrastructure Improvement Plan that was utilized to calculate developer impact fees. It shows a 16" pipeline (green) along Tangerine at I-10, which has already been built. A future 16" pipeline with two storage tanks (purple) along the Tangerine Road Corridor is also shown. At present, Marana Water only intends to provide water service south of Tangerine so the pipeline and tanks would only serve that area (if ASLD approves and auctions the land) and/or just provide a loop to connect to the water system pipelines in Twin Peaks. If the pipeline/tanks do get proposed for design/construction in the future, we need to be concerned about the height and visibility of the tanks. It would be desirable to bury or partially bury and screen these tanks.



The map below comes from the 2022 Wastewater Facilities Infrastructure Improvements Plan that was utilized to calculate developer impact fees. It shows the Marana Wastewater Designated Management Area (DMA) boundary in red. The boundary bisects the Tortolita Preserve and the Tangerine Road Corridor. Marana Wastewater can only serve west of that line and Pima County Wastewater can only serve east of that line. Again, ASLD would have to approve and auction their land holdings in this area before any wastewater service could be provided.


Stormwater (Tortolita Fan)

The Tortolita Fan Watershed Map (above) comes from the Pima County Flood Control District. TP has been added to this map (shaded pink). The map shows the extensive number of washes emminating from the Tortilita Mountains that fan out over the watershed and transfer flood water towards the I-10 and ultimately the Santa Cruz River. In fact, TA has counted 94 washes crossings along the TP trail system! A good portion of TP and the Tangerine Road Corridor are located in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Special Flood Hazard Areas (shaded dark blue). Any proposed development in these areas will have to deal with significant stormwater challenges and obtain associated regulatory approvals.



In 2012, Arizona Game & Fish in partnership with the Arizona Wildlife Linkages Workgroup, Pima County Wildlife Connectivity Workgroup and the Regional Transportation Authority of Pima County (RTA) published a report entitled, The Pima County Wildlife Connectivity Assessment: Report on Stakeholder Input-February 2012. The report summarized the results of stakeholder workshops whereby the locations of critical wildlife linkages in Pima County were identified and mapped.

The map above is Figure 11-Pima County stakeholder-identified linkages-Marana from that report. The approximate location of the Tortolita Preserve and Tangerine Road have been added to show their location in reference to the Tortolita Mountain-Tuscon Mountain wildlife corridor (Missing Linkages-yellow w/black perimeter outline). This map demonstrates the importance of the Tortolita Preserve and the Tangerine Road Corridor for the free movement of wildlife between the Tortolita Mountains and the Tucson Mountains.


Tangerine Road Improvements-Phase 2A and 2B & Archeological & Cultural Issues

One of the larger Pima County Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) projects is Tangerine Road Improvements (I-10 to La Cañada). Phase 1 (La Cañada to Dove Mountain Boulevard was completed in 2018. Phase 2 (1-10 to Dove Mountain Boulevard) has two separate phases. Phase 2A (I-10 to Tangerine Business Park) design is complete and construction is planned to begin in 2024. Phase 2B is in the final stages of design.

Tangerine Road Improvements-Phase 2A

The major features of Phase 2A are:

  • Widening of Tangerine Road to a four-lane desert parkway with paved shoulders and a curbed median.

  • Improved drainage to convey 100-year storm events under the roadway through a combination of channels and culverts.

  • 12-foot-wide multi-use-path along the north side of the roadway.

  • Signalized intersection at Adonis Road with improved access to accommodate future development.

  • Frontage road along the south side of Tangerine Road providing access to Marana Tech Center current and future businesses.

  • Widening for capacity improvements and pedestrian/bicycle connectivity at the I-10 Tangerine Road Traffic Interchange (TI).

Here is a typical cross section taken from the construction plans:

A summary of Phase 2 can be found at the RTA-Tangerine Road Improvement Website.

Tangerine Road Improvements-Phase 2A & Archeological & Cultural Findings

Research for this blog uncovered a 2/23/24 letter from ASLD to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) regarding archeological and culural investigations for a proposed 32.24 acres right-of-way aquistion by Marana from ASLD for the Tangerine Road Improvement project. We have requested the archeological and cultural reports cited in this letter. Of particular interest is the following paragraph in the letter; " Phase 1 data recovery at AZ AA:12:422(ASM) resulted in the identification of substantial intact subsurface cultural remains, including architectural and non-architectural features, artifacts, and ancestral human remains."

TA has been informed by Marana that Phase 2B is currently on hold. Therefore, we will be providing more information when it becomes available.


Summary & Conclusions

The Tangerine Road Corridor (Dove Mountain Blvd to I-10) has the following elements:

  • Land Use-Low Density Residential.

  • Zoning-Agriculture (north of Tangerine Road) and Large Lot Zone (south of Tangerine Road).

  • ASLD Land-extensive holdings north and south of Tangerine Road.

  • Water-Tucson Water cannot serve this area and Marana Water only intends to serve south of Tangerine Road. Marana Water has future plans to install a 16" pipeline and two water storage tanks.

  • Wastewater-the DMA boundary between Marana Wastewater and Pima County Wastewater bisects the area and Marana Wastewater can only serve to the west and Pima County Wastewater can only serve to the east.

  • Stormwater (Tortolita Fan)-extensive washes located in FEMA Special Flood Hazard Areas.

  • Wildlife-located in a critical wildlife linkage area that connects the Tortolita Mountains and the Tucson Mountains.

  • Archeological/Cultural-the Tortolita Mountains and Tortolita Fan have pre-Hohokam and Hohokam archeological/cultural sites. It appears a signifcant site has been uncovered within the Tangerine Road Corridor (more to come).

  • Tangerine Road Improvements-includes four-lane roadway with improved drainage and multi-use path. Phase 2A is about to begin construction and Phase 2B is on hold. Wildlife linkages/crossings are still being researched by TA. Archeological and cultural findings have been identified and will be further reported in upcoming blogs in this series.

The Tangerine Road Corridor has many attributes that need to be protected to preserve our wonderful open space, protect the natural flow of stormwater across the Tortolita Fan, insure the free movement of wildlife between the Tortolita and Tucson Mountains and insure protection of sensitive archeological and culture sites.

Any proposed development in this area will be difficult to justify because of these attributes. We must be vigilant and continuously monitor to ensure there are no or minimal adverse impacts in the Tangerine Road Corridor.


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