By a 5-1 vote Wednesday, the Marana Town Council has approved a zoning change and related development agreement that would allow construction of a commercial landfill on land in west Marana.
The council, after a public hearing with dozens of speakers both for and against the landfill, talked about the 10-month deliberation before casting votes. A standing-room-only crowd near 300 people, some with signs in opposition, others in green shirts of support, packed the council chambers.
Councilwoman Patti Comerford made the motion to adopt the zone change and development agreement, seconded by Councilman Russell Clanagan. Comerford and Clanagan were joined by Jon Post, Roxanne Ziegler and Mayor Ed Honea in the affirmative; Councilwoman Carol McGorray voted against it. Vice Mayor Herb Kai, who now owns the ground upon which the landfill would be constructed, recused himself from the decision and did not sit on the dais Tuesday. He was in the back of the room following adjournment.
Adjacent property owner Pak Chan had protested the zone change, thereby requiring a supermajority of the council to vote for the rezoning. Had two council members voted against, it would have been defeated.
The Marana Regional Landfill Specific Plan zones the 590-acre parcel — generally located one mile north of Avra Valley Road, one mile east of Trico Road and one-half mile south of Silverbell Road — for use as a landfill, with associated recycling and other related activities. The landfill itself would occupy 430 acres. The development agreement among applicant DKL Holdings, the property owners and the Town of Marana set certain terms and conditions for its operation, including a tipping fee paid to town government.
Now, landfill developer Larry Henk must proceed toward state and federal regulatory agency review and approvals. After Tuesday’s vote, Henk said it may be several months before he is ready to proceed with applications.
Tuesday’s decision triggers a 30-day period in which opponents can collect signatures and refer the ordinance to the May general election ballot. To do so, 303 valid signatures from town residents must be submitted with a referendum application to town government by Dec. 3.
Marana’s Strategic Plan, adopted by council last year, includes references to the need for solid waste disposal facilities in north Pima County and south Pinal County, a town release said.
“Council’s action helps meet a pressing need in the area,” Honea said. “The landfill and resulting opportunities it helps create will be of great benefit to this region.”
The town council approved annexation of the property in May. The town’s planning commission in February recommended approval of the rezone and in September recommended approval of the development agreement.