Tucson Approves Controversial West Side Housing Development | Government and politics

Prior to this week’s vote, existing zoning rules would still have allowed a homeowner to build two homes on each 36,000 square foot lot.

This shakes up between 110 and 144 units spread over a massive area, which has forced Tucson to the negotiating table. City staff said it would have “destroyed everything” in the surrounding landscape.

“They could have come at any time and created a big subdivision without going through any process,” said Scott Clark, director of planning and development services for Tucson.

Authorities made a zoning exception for the company that allowed it to build homes closer together, called “cluster development,” to keep the area as open as possible.

City staff also said they are reducing the environmental impact of the project, though there are still plans to uproot hundreds of saguaro cacti that will need to be replaced three times, according to a separate law.

“We are going to destroy hundreds of saguaros. I have a real problem with that,” said Councilman Steve Kozachik, who voted against the plan. “The replacement rate is three to one. If we destroy 200, that means they’ll have to transplant 600 somewhere. I haven’t heard or read anything about it.

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