A controversial building expansion is one step closer to reality in Marana.
Qwest Communications plans to build a way station for employees just north of its central office at Cortaro Farms and Hartman roads. However, the town must change its zoning in the area to allow that to happen. The telecommunications company cleared an early hurdle last week when Marana’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the zoning change in a 5-2 vote.
The rezoning has angered some homeowners across the street from Qwest, who fear that the new facility will lessen their property values and increase traffic in the area.
Mark Sprouls lives across the street in the 275-house Cortaro Ranch subdivision. He is leading the effort to fight the rezoning.
“Such a field service facility should be located in an area that is already zoned commercial and that is nearby major roadways that offer good access to the field work,” wrote Sprouls in a May 28 letter to town officials.
Sprouls is circulating a petition to those opposed to the expansion, which he hopes to present to the town council before the final rezoning vote.
Due to an error in zoning when the town annexed the area north of the facility in 1990, a pair of properties was not zoned correctly, according to town officials. Nor was the area where the current Qwest facility stands when it was incorporated into the town in 2004.
These zoning errors typically happen when a plat of land receives incompatible zoning when it is transferred from the county to the town, said Brian Varney, a planner with the Marana’s Development Services Department.
The error came to light when Qwest announced its plans to expand. Town officials noticed that the current facility and a house to the north of it also were incorrectly rezoned, Varney said.
The changes to the three properties will go before the town council, tentatively on June 17. If approved, the changes will become official following a 30-day waiting period.
Work could begin on the new facility as early as July, according to Kimberly Bostwick, manager of the Southern Arizona district for Qwest Corporate Real Estate, a subsidiary of Qwest Communications.
In order to appease homeowners nearby, Qwest agreed to landscape the area and to build a wall that will stretch from the expanded facility to Cortaro Farms Road, Bostwick said. The wall should conceal the company’s property from view.
Not all of the area’s residents are against the rezoning.
Lonnie Catt has lived north of the planned expansion for 29 years. His property also was incorrectly rezoned. He joins Qwest in the matter before the town.
“I have no qualms about that because they’ve been such good neighbors,” Catt said. “I cannot recall a time that I’ve ever heard them.”