TUCSON, Ariz. - A crowd of several hundred people burst into applause at a public meeting here, as the Pima County Board of Supervisors killed a developer's plan to turn a cattle ranch into 6,100 homes, two golf courses, a hotel, shopping areas and an airstrip.
The Jan. 12 vote, the first
denial of a major Tucson-area zoning change since 1973, had
environmentalists and officials exclaiming that this county of
823,000 people has turned the corner in its battle against urban
sprawl (HCN, 1/18/99).
The vote symbolized a
"paradigm shift" in how the county manages growth, according to
Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll, who opposed the Canoa Ranch
County planning commissioner Bruce
Gungle said that controlled growth supporters are now in the
mainstream. "Soon, the term environmentalist itself will be
passé," Gungle said. "It's becoming more and more the thinking
of Joe Sixpack."
Observers in the local
astronomy community hailed this vote as one more sign that Tucson
was becoming "astronomy valley." In the week prior to the vote,
more than 2,000 astronomers from 43 states and 25 countries had
signed a petition circulated over the Internet in opposition to the
The astronomers had complained that
lights in the new development would cripple a nearby observatory
run by the Smithsonian Institution. The developer had alienated
many people by threatening to sue the Smithsonian unless it dropped
its opposition to the project - something it didn't
Realtor Bill Arnold agreed with
environmentalists that the rules of the development game had
changed for the foreseeable future, but argued that anyone who
thinks the change is permanent is fooling
"This is just another point in the
continuum," Arnold said. "When something (like growth control) is
set up as the mainstream, it becomes a target for change."