The Marana Town Council took its first step toward annexing both the La Tierra Linda resort and the Lazy K Guest Ranch at a public hearing during its Oct. 2 meeting.
Both proposed annexations were initiated by the owners, which would provide the town more than 350 acres west of Marana's existing boundary.
This annexation has concerned some of La Tierra Linda's neighbors who said the resort, 7501 N. Wade Road, is a regular offender of Pima County's noise ordinance and may add more strain than benefit to the town.
"I ask you to consider this slowly," Emily Johnston, a La Tierra neighbor involved in a lawsuit against the resort, said to the council members. "You don't want to inherit a problem noise issue."
Johnston listed a number of things -- such as live bands, offensive lyrics and drunken crowds -- she deems to be causing the noise problem.
"It could be heard both inside and outside the neighborhood's homes," Johnston said.
Pima County Sheriff's deputies have been unable to mitigate the problem because the county's ordinance had been too loose, she said.
La Tierra Linda owner Mark Wolfe said he disagrees that his resort is a repeat noise offender, adding that he took measures more than a year ago to prevent further disturbances.
That was backed up by the Pima County Sheriff's Department. Two years ago deputies responded to La Tierra Linda 17 times for varying reasons, said Steve Easton, public information officer for the Sheriff's Department. However, Easton said, have not responded to the resort in the last year.
Wolfe said part of the noise problem is due to the resort's location, which he referred to as an "echo chamber." La Tierra Linda is a 30-acre ranch built in the early 1940s that now serves as a resort, concert location and host to other events.
"The Pima County Board of Supervisors amended the county's noise ordinance Sept. 18, setting specific limits and giving deputies more authority to cite violators, Leslie Nixon, a spokeswoman for Supervisor Sharon Bronson, said.
"When a lot of noise was coming from some bar, the officers couldn't cite them because the owner wasn't there," Nixon said. "Now anybody connected can be."
In Pima County, if noise can be heard 125 feet from the offender's property line, that is now a violation. The county's ordinance does not set a decibel limit.
The Marana Town Council may soon be considering the creation of a resort and recreation zone that, if annexed, both La Tierra Linda and Lazy K, located at 8401 N. Scenic Drive, could be included.
Marana Town Manager Mike Hein said it is important for these areas to become part of the town to give Marana authority to fix problems that already affect its residents because of the close proximity.
"For us, (the guest ranches) being part of the town means having the ability to work things out," Hein said. "We can create rules that, first of all, can be enforced."
Marana's proposed recreation zone would set limits for noise at 75 decibels, with it being considered a nuisance at 65.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, 65 decibels is only slightly louder than normal conversation and 75 decibels is less than city traffic. Rock concerts, of which Johnston was complaining, can be as loud as 140 decibels.
Assistant Town Manager Mike Reuwsaat said the town's police force would easily enforce the noise limits if it were to become an issue at La Tierra Linda.
"It's basically an officer's call if it's a nuisance," Marana Development Services Director Jim DeGrood said.
Reuwsaat is now working with both Lazy K and La Tierra Linda on a pre-annexation agreements.
"We're figuring out how we'll treat issues like noise and like the dust," Hein said.
Also included in the proposed annexations would be Star Dance, a dance club, and Sanctuary Cove, a place of prayer and meditation.