At the March 11th Board of Supervisors meeting, the Coalition had success working with developers and ensuring responsible land use in ecologically sensitive areas and promoting conservation. Along the Santa Cruz River east of I-19 at Continental Road and Whitehouse Canyon Road, the owners of approximately 1,095 acres of land, currently farmed pecan groves, are planning future development. The development will include activity centers, high, medium and low density residential housing, and possibly an “eco-resort”. From conceptual planning, the Coalition has been actively involved with the property owners’ development proposal. Much of the property falls within the Conservation Lands System (CLS) as part of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP). This includes Important Riparian Area, Biological Core Management Area, Multiple Use Management Area, and Critical Landscape Linkage. The proximity to the Santa Cruz River is of particular concern. Working with the owners, the Coalition has ensured that CLS guidelines were fully adhered to with this property.
The Coalition reached agreements with the developers to create plans for native plant restoration and management should the pecan groves on the property permanently go to a fallowed condition, develop plant palettes to enhance riparian restoration, integrate wildlife-friendly features into the overall design of the property, and create connected tributary channels. This creates increased natural open space to ensure wildlife connectivity from the Santa Rita Mountains to both the river corridor and to adjacent county-owned preserve land in Canoa Ranch.
With these additional agreements, the Board of Supervisors approved the Specific Plan rezoning. The Coalition is looking forward to working with the property owners as the plan moves forward to ensure the ecological integrity and connectivity of the area is preserved far in perpetuity as part of the development.
View a map of the property (Provided by Farmers Investment Co., Continental Farms Specific Plan Application)