Opponents of a proposed residential development in Marana might have won their battle to prevent construction on an area they believe holds environmental significance.
Pima County Superior Court Judge John Davis last week ruled that signatures opponents gathered in an effort to bring a referendum against the De Anza development were valid, despite the belated collection of the petitions.
The decision means the issue could be put to a public vote in March.
The dispute stems from a 2007 Marana Town Council rezoning of 133 acres near Cortaro Road and Interstate 10.
Neighbors opposed the move that would have permitted Red Point development to build a 311-lot subdivision. Some residents and environmental groups claimed the development would endanger animal habitat and a planned wildlife corridor that follows Hardy Wash.
Opponents of the plan collected the signatures of nearly 500 residents to challenge the development. They had until Dec. 8, 2007, to gather and turn in the petitions.
Because the eighth was a Saturday, opponents of the development waited until the following Monday to hand in the documents. Marana law permits the delayed return if the deadline falls on a weekend.
Lawyers for the developers filled a suit against the town after Marana officials refused to deny the petition on grounds that it was turned in late.
Marana Town Councilman Herb Kai owns a section of the property developers want to subdivide. He has abstained from votes connected to the issue.
Judge Davis found that town law was followed, and denied developers’ request to have the petitions thrown out.
“It’s a victory for the referenda process,” said Carolyn Campbell, who’s group, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, has helped fight the proposed development.
A referendum to deny the building project could appear on Marana’s March election ballot, unless lawyers for the developer appeal the ruling.