Main Gate challenge fails, still changes may come

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A community effort to prevent high-rise development near the University of Arizona has stalled.  That's because the Tucson city clerk determined thousands of petition signatures are invalid.

The West University Neighborhood circulated two types of petitions.  The one with more verbiage was the correct format, but the group turned in signatures from both types.  The clerk found all the signatures on the wrong form were not good.

"This is so confusing," says Val Little with the West University Neighborhood.  She helped collect about 12,000 signatures and nearly half were rejected.

The petition drive aimed to get a referendum on the ballot letting voters decide whether they want a 14-story student housing complex near the university and development around a group of historic bungalows on Euclid.

"Mayor and council may technically and legally be off the hook, but they're certainly not off the hook with the 12,000 people in this community," says Little.

Council member Karin Uhlich had voted against the overlay. She issued a letter Monday saying she'd like council to go back and reconsider some development plans around the bungalows.

"If everyone is sitting around the table including the same conversation then I will do that," says council member Steve Kozachik.  He voted for the overlay because he believes student housing should be closer to the university.

Kozachik says he's open to speaking with all parties involved under one condition.

"I'm not going to negotiate away somebody's property rights."

Kozachik says the owners of the Euclid bungalows have been offered incentives as part of the overlay development.

The West University Neighborhood has until Wednesday to appeal the clerk's decision to reject the signatures. On Tuesday, the city council will discuss the petitions behind closed doors.

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