Letter to the Editor: Eli Karson

To the editor:

Do you live in an area zoned SR for “suburban ranch?” Think your neighborhood is protected? Think again!

SR is intended as a low-density zone, principally for single-family residences with conditional use allowed on large lots. The large minimum lot size requirement of this zone is intended to ensure a considerable reservation of open space.  However, conditional uses are permitted subject to approval by the county board of supervisors. Among the conditional uses permitted, subject to the procedures set forth in Chapter 18.97 STC (Conditional Use Procedures) is the “Minor Resort.”

The intent to allow for minor resorts was to meet the lodging, convention and recreational needs of short-term visitors, not intended to allow for the development of residential units for permanent or long-term residential use. Thus, the minor resort “loophole” allows a “bike motel” proposal at Saguaro National Park, with 49 rooms, once again, to be considered, although it was denied five years ago.  You will note that 49 rooms is the maximum permitted without a zoning change.

In spite of this being an obvious hotel development, it is now presented as an eco- friendly bike ranch, (with no bike trails?), a model for resource conservation and a development that will preserve natural open space. How 49 units with 79 parking spaces, and two story construction, on a 20 acre flat site accomplishes that is a mystery to me.

What you have is a proposed mini Motel 6 in an out of the way location in the middle of residential property across from a National Park entrance, hardly appropriate.  For those of us who live along Old Spanish Trail, this is an unwelcome prospect. There is no need or demand for such a facility at this location. Real bike parks exist all over Tucson and lodging options that cater to visiting bicyclers already exist throughout the area. The owner/developers have other options open to them with this property which they are refusing to explore and, once again, they have ignored the strong objections of the neighborhood and have employed stealth tactics in re-introducing this proposal.  If you live In a Suburban Ranch zoned area, you too could soon see such bending of the rules. Whether the interests of our community will be served is up to the board of supervisors. We will need to show up at the April 4th hearing or otherwise weigh in to assure our interest is protected.  I know I will.

Eli Karson

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