Dear Editor,

This is an open letter to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, the Pima County Planning Commission, the residents at Del Webb at Rancho Del Lago, and residents of the greater Rancho Del Lago area of Vail.

There are a number of homeowners within the Del Webb at Rancho Del Lago (DWRDL) community that are feeling that we are under assault over a parcel of land that is the subject of a rezoning request, “P20CR0001 Cummings, ET AL – E. REX MOLLY ROAD CONCURRENT PLAN AMENDMENT & Rezoning.” On its face, the request from the property owner’s agent may seem simple, straightforward and reasonable.

The request is to change the zoning of Parcel #305-05-0690 at 13650 E Rex Molly Drive from the previous designation of PDC (Planned Development Community) SP to MIR (Medium Intensity Rural) GR-1. The property owner’s agent wants to build a custom one-story house (their “dream” home), a 4-stall horse barn and a 14,400 square foot arena to exercise their 4 show horses.

The Pima County Planning Commission staff requested comments from all residents that reside within the 300-foot area adjacent to the property. A number of DWRDL residents who live within the affected area have raised objections to the project based on the potential for increased levels of flies, dust, odors, noise and reduced property values.

Flies are attracted to horses and other farm animals because of urine and manure they produce. They are prolific multipliers. The planned 14,400 square foot horse arena will be a major source of dust. Planned Development Communities are required to have their yards covered with gravel. The entire property will likely be scraped off to bare dirt. While the Planning Commissioners did put a restriction as to where on the property the arena was to be located, they put no restrictions on the requesters to provide any system for mitigation of the dust, such as a sprinkler system or any other ground covering. With the prevailing northwestern winds, this will increase the dust in our neighborhood.

Also, there are a lot of seniors who, as they age, have breathing issues and allergies due to hay fever and dust. It is a fact that “Valley Fever” exists in the soil throughout this area. More than one resident that I know of, has already suffered from this illness.  In addition, bales of hay needed to feed horses on the property, if not stored indoors, will also add mold and pollen that are not currently present on the property. I’m surprised that the Vail School District, who owns the five parcels located south the property along White Lightning Drive, three of which were originally slated to be a part of the DWRDL development, has not expressed concern for the health and welfare of their students.

The majority of DWRDL residents, when they built or bought here, have done so in their retirement years and are on fixed incomes. They chose DWRDL because it was a master planned, safe, quiet and active community. The requesters are telling everyone that our property values will go up due to rezoning. That’s not necessarily true. With that being said. if one house value drops due to this rezoning, the trickle-down effect will cause the value of ALL the homes within our community to be affected. If this proposed change in zoning is approved, our health and our financial viability as retired citizens will be compromised. 

Almost ten years ago, my wife and I purchased our retirement “dream” home in the Del Webb at Rancho Del Lago subdivision of the Rancho Del Lago planned development, because we wanted to live in an area of upscale homes and be protected from the issues (such as noise, insects, odors and dust) that can arise from properties zoned as MIR GR-1. This property was zoned PDC SP for a reason and even one of the Planning Commissioners during the initial hearing questioned why this regressive zoning change should be approved as it runs contrary to the “master plan” for Vail.

The DWRDL community is an Active Adult 55 + community where most are retired individuals. We have worked hard all our lives to be able to build our “dream” home in this type of peaceful, sedate, quiet neighborhood. We do not understand why one family’s dreams should take precedence over the people who have lived here for 10 years or more.

There are other locations for the requesters to build that are already zoned for farm horses and farm animals. I ask that the Pima County Board of Supervisors and the Pima County Planning Commission honor their original commitment to the residents of Vail and not rezone this property.

Richard Keen                                                                                                                

Del Webb at Rancho Del Lago, Vail

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