A plan to turn a vacant golf course on the north side of Tucson into a housing estate for hundreds of residents is raising concerns among some area neighbors.
The developers propose to turn the old Quail Canyon golf course into a housing and apartment community.
Preliminary plans call for 120 two-story homes and 210 apartments in seven three-story buildings on approximately 53 acres at 5910 N. Oracle Road, between River and Rudasill roads.
The parcel would be divided with the apartment complexes on the west side of the community, closest to commercial properties such as restaurants and hotels.
Single-family homes would be built on the east side, closer to existing homes.
Access to the community would be through both the Oracle and Rudasill routes.
Currently zoned for 1.2 homes per acre, developers hope to have it rezoned for higher density.
However, some residents of the surrounding neighborhoods oppose it.
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About 100 people turned out for a neighborhood meeting with developers earlier this month to voice their objections.
One of the main concerns is the destruction of the riparian zone, with potential damage to desert plants, such as saguaro, cholla and mesquite, as well as local wildlife – javelins, coyotes and hares.
Another concern is increased traffic, noise and light pollution, said Carole DeAngeli of the Oracle Foothills Neighborhood Association, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years.
“The density is totally inappropriate for the area,” she said. “If they were to develop it within the existing zoning, that would be acceptable.”
Neighbor Leslie Paige helps lead the effort against rezoning.
“We are not anti-development,” she said. “We are in favor of appropriate development.”
The large number of potential residents could ruin the area, Paige fears.
“Most of the people who live here have lived here for a long time, multiple times for generations,” she said. “This is not a snowbird community.”
Paige said she hopes to let her neighbors know about the proposal and discuss options if the county approves the rezoning.
“This community needs to come together and ask, ‘OK, what can we live with?'” she said. “These conversations are just getting started.”
Mitigation of concerns
The developer, Urbaneer Investment Partners, is based in Long Beach, Calif., but the majority of its partners are from Tucson, said Rory Juneman, a partner at law firm Lazarus & Silvyn, which represents the developers.
He said the appeal of the site is both the location and the setting.
“It’s a beautiful setting and sits below these existing homes about 40 feet so it doesn’t block any views,” Juneman said. “They plan to preserve about 50% open space as amenities.”
His firm led the meetings with the neighbors.
“The first thing to understand is that when we come in and ask for rezoning, it’s going to be a change, and people don’t generally like change — it’s a natural reaction,” Juneman said. “We want to work with them to address their concerns and, where possible, alleviate their concerns in the hope that this becomes a better project.”
He pointed out that the site of the proposed community has already been disturbed.
“It was a golf course,” Juneman said. “We are not building on an area of natural, pristine desert – we are building on a golf course.”
He said the homes would be located above the Pima Wash in the floodplain area.
“We can go over it but we can’t disturb the wash,” Juneman said. “We are elevating parts of our site and creating bank protections that will all be reviewed by the county.”
The lack of new housing in this area, for both buyers and sellers, attracts developers.
“We have the choice to grow from our existing footprint or build on infill sites,” Juneman said. “What is best from an environmental point of view?
He said the plan is to continue discussions with neighbors to gain support.
“We think our request is very reasonable: we want to place single-family homes next to single-family homes and apartments next to a commercial area,” Juneman said. “We are ready to work with the neighbors and solve their problems, and we hope that they realize this and are ready to work with us.”
The rezoning application is expected to be submitted to Pima County officials in July.
Quail Canyon Golf Course opened in 1965 and closed about four years ago.
Contact journalist Gabriela Rico at email@example.com