By Jim Wright
TUCSON CITY MANAGER Michael Brown last week confirmed rumors that Assistant City Manager John Jones is hunkered down in negotiations with developer Don Diamond's Rocking K Ranch staff.
Diamond wants to develop several thousand acres of plush Sonoran desert in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains into an expensive resort community. If and when the Rocking K plan is realized, the development could boast no less than three golf courses, several luxury resorts, a city center and up to 10,000 units of exclusive housing.
Brown says negotiations have been going on for the last three months. He adds the issue of whether Rocking K will go before the council will depend on "the numbers." By which Brown means how much it will cost the city compared to the tax benefits derived from annexation.
Brown is well aware of the feelings of several members of the council who have made it plain they will oppose annexation of the Rocking K property if the taxpayers are asked to underwrite the project's massive infrastructure cost.
Even so, insiders predict the Rocking K's proposed annexation will somehow manage to get before the council even if the numbers aren't quite right.
Diamond is also is aware of his potential problems within the council. So, insiders say, Diamond has been twisting arms on the eleventh floor of the Pima County administration building to get the county to enact "impact fees" which would underwrite a large part of his "new town" infrastructure costs.
Unfortunately for Diamond, the county is balking at his proposal. It seems county officials have found Diamond's proposal to institute
development impact fees on the city's southeast side to be "not quite in conformity with state statutes." Which is like being a little bit pregnant.
County officials say the Diamond bunch "are trying to rush the process."
Furthermore, they say Diamond is not satisfied with negotiating impact fees for the Rocking K development alone, but has proposed that the "development agreement" between the Rocking K operation and the county actually extend well beyond the Diamond-held properties. County officials flatly refused this proposal, since an agreement of this kind would bind future developers without their input or agreement.
Why would Diamond even attempt this kind of move? Simple. "Diamond wants to have his infrastructure costs underwritten," says one county official.
Desperate? We think so.
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