The Pima County Board of Supervisors has backed a request to rezone 5.9 acres on the northeast side despite heavy neighborhood opposition to the plans for 53 luxury rental casitas.

The 4-0 decision, with Supervisor Ray Carroll absent, overrules a recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Commission in late May to reject the proposed change in zoning.

At the time, more than 40 residents living near the proposed rental-home project along Sabino Canyon Road between East River and Cloud roads clapped, cheered and at times tried to shout down backers of the project. Opponents cited concerns about increased traffic, access to the subdivision, lack of sufficient water and falling home prices.

The developer says he expects to charge between $1,150 and $1,300 in rent for the two- and three-bedroom luxury rental units.

A slightly more balanced group came out to Tuesday's meeting, with former Aerie Development property managers and business partners addressing the board in their support of the rezoning request, in addition to dozens of residents opposed to the project.

The 5.9-acre site owned by Aerie Development was zoned for a low-density "suburban-ranch" development, but new zoning approved by the board allows up to 10 units per acre.

Bob Gugino, an attorney and partner in the Aerie Development project, said he hopes to break ground later this year.

However, a 15.14-acre site on the other side of Sabino Canyon Road, also owned by Aerie Development, is bound to inspire another wave of protests.

Earlier this year, Aerie Development officials told the county they were considering building as many as 200 similar units on the property.

However, the developer has not submitted formal plans for the second site.

A county development official said he expects a request to amend the county's comprehensive plan - a precursor to a rezoning request - to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission in the next few weeks.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4346.