The Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission decided to oppose rezoning land for 169 “luxury casitas” on undeveloped property along Sabino Canyon Road between East River and Cloud roads.
The commission voted 6-3 against the rezoning Wednesday, siding with residents who said the project would bring too many homes and too much traffic to the area.
Many of the residents were also concerned about water availability.
The commissioners voted at the end of a meeting that lasted about four hours and featured speakers from the Sabino Joint Neighborhoods Committee, which represents the homeowner associations near the proposed development.
There were also some who spoke in support of the project, saying the area was ideal for luxury rental housing, which provides an alternative for those with higher incomes who don’t want to live in regular apartments.
Ultimately, the county Board of Supervisors will make the final decision on whether to rezone the property.
The county staff supported the rezoning request despite acknowledging concerns about road capacity, water usage and the project’s design.
Officials said the land is an ideal spot for higher-density housing.
Officials touted existing roads and utilities, an elementary school nearby, as well as a Sun Tran bus line and businesses about a mile away that could serve as potential employers to the new residents.
They also said the development was compatible with the surrounding homes, a notion contradicted by most of the residents who live in those houses.
Many people from those neighborhoods said they support development on the property, but added that the smaller homes would not fit in with the larger single-family properties in the area.
“Lower density would take care of traffic, water, open-space and neighbor problems,” said Sam O’Shaughnessy, a member of the Sabino Joint Neighborhoods Committee.
They also expressed concerns about water usage, especially since the Metropolitan Water District, which would serve the development, does not have a renewable water source.
County officials said the company does have an integrated system of wells and a reservoir that should lessen the impact on water usage.
The developer, Sabino Canyon Road Properties, will continue to work to alleviate the concerns of neighbors and the county, said Erin Harris, a civil engineer with Star Consulting of Arizona, which represented the developer at the meeting.
The company hopes to submit its plans to the Board of Supervisors next month, Harris said.