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  • Writer's pictureMark L. Johnson

Tortolita 30 Rezoning-Update

Last night, despite overwhelming opposing public comment, the Marana Planning Commission approved the Tortolita 30 Rezoning with some added conditions.

Thanks to Tortolita Alliance (TA) members and others for providing letters and attending in person or on-line. Special thanks to Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection (CSDP) for the CSDP Comment Letter and her comments at the hearing.

The two major issues were presented during public comment; (1) traffic/safety and (2) Natural Undisturbed Open Space (NUOS). In large part, these issues were ignored by the the Planning Commission.


Let's take traffic/safety first. As reported in the TA Comment Letter, the traffic study did not take into account the newly approved subdivision (Tortolita Ridge) at the end of Tortolita Road and the new addition to the MUSD STEM school on Moore Road. The traffic study also clearly states that there is an existing traffic issue at the intersection of Tortolita Road and Moore Road and mitigation will not be easy. The proposed solution is a roundabout at this intersection, which the application indicates "may" provide traffic mitigation. Not a very solid recommendation or solution.

Many residents advised the Planning Commission about high rates of speed, traffic noise, traffic jams, etc. that already exist in this area. The other big concern is safety for the children walking to and from the MUSD STEM school as sidewalks are limited. Many felt that a roundabout is not the solution and that another way out (to Tangerine) is key.

Even though the traffic issue exists today, the developer has been conditioned (and has apparently agreed) to pay for the new roundabout. The Planning Commission placed two additional conditions regarding traffic; (1) re-do the traffic study including the Tortolita Ridge subdivision traffic before bringing the project to Town Council, and (2) the roundabout must be completed before any Tortolita 30 homes can be built. More about this at the end.

Natural Undisturbed Open Space (NUOS)

Chairman Schnee, to his credit, did propose to lower the number of residences per acre (RAC) from the proposed 2.8 RAC to 2.0 RAC. This would reduce the number of homes to about 60 and provide more NUOS and reduce traffic. However, the developer representative claimed this was too much of a financial burden as the developer is also conditioned to build the roundabout. Amazingly, Commissioner Duncan sided with the developer and the other Commissioners followed suit and we are left with 2.8 RAC---for now.

More Questions Than Answers

This hearing left us with more questions than answers:

  1. Why was the Tortolita Ridge subdivision left out of the Site Analysis? It is located just up the street and recently approved with a 1.8 RAC! Were they afraid to compare the 1.8 RAC with the proposed 2.8 RAC?

  2. Why was the Tortolita Ridge subdivision not conditioned to build or contribute to a roundabout?

  3. Who prepared the traffic/safety studies for the MUSD STEM School? This was apparently flawed as traffic and children safety conditions in this area are already poor.

  4. The Tortolita Ridge subdivision traffic load will now be included in the Tortolita 30 Traffic Study Re-do. Why isn't the MUSD STEM school new addition traffic not being included in the Traffic Study Re-do?

  5. Why was the MUSD STEM school not conditioned to build or contribute to a roundabout?

  6. Apparently, Tortolita 30 is not within the Dove Mountain Specific Plan and not included in the Dove Mountain HOA. How will Tortolita 30 residents contribute to the cost of the Dove Mountain trails, parks, common area maintenance, etc. that they will most likely use?

  7. The application says that public water supply is secure. If not part of the Dove Mountain Specific Plan (Tucson Water agreements in place), where will the water supply be coming from and where is the documentation?

TA will continue to investigate these questions as we move into the next phase of this project. For sure, we will request to review the Traffic Study Re-do.

Perhaps we can get to a solution whereby other parties (MUSD, Tortolita Ridge, Town of Marana, etc.) contribute to the roundabout or other traffic solution and the number of Tortolita 30 homes are reduced and NUOS is increased.

Seems like a win-win situation.


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