Marana residents raise concern over preserve area's future - Tucson News Now

Marana residents raise concern over preserve area's future

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MARANA, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Tortolita Mountain Preservation area in Marana is about 2,400 acres of land. It's just a few steps from the Ritz Carlton Marana. On Wednesday evening, hundreds of residents addressed their concerns with the Town of Marana trying to end a lease agreement with the state of Arizona.

Marana Town Manager, Gilbert Davidson, says back in 2000, Marana agreed to pay more than $120 million over 99 years to create the preservation area protecting the Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl. At the time, the owl was considered endangered.

Now that the owl is off the endangered list, Davidson says the town should not still be responsible for paying the cash, especially because Marana will not own the land when the lease is up.

Virginia Worzalla, who lives nearby says Marana just wants to develop the area, "it's going to be auctioned off to a developer and next thing you know all those 100-200 year old saguaros, the 300 year old to 1,000 year old trees, not to mention all the animal habitats, are going to be bladed and built."

However, Gary Borax, who also attended the meeting disagrees, "I can't picture development out there because the characteristics of the land. You can't do it. You can't block the drainage's of the washes."

Davidson says even if it's possible to get out of the lease, it could take years to settle.

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