TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) –

Closed schools worry neighbors and saddle Tucson’s largest school district with upkeep and security concerns. But the new plan for Wrightstown Elementary on the east side has some neighbors appealing to the city as it considers a zoning change which would allow the site to be developed for homes.

The deal between Pepper Viner Homes and the Tucson Unified School District for the Wrightstown property hinges on a zoning change. The city’s zoning examiner will recommend what the council should approve based on what he heard Thursday night.

The developer wants to build 56 homes on 9.25 acres. TUSD has a deal with Pepper Viner to sell Wrightstown for $1.3 million. But that won’t happen if the land is not changed to residential zoning.

Previous deals with other developers and the district included higher density luxury rental homes. The neighbors did not want to see something like that with more traffic on the streets. And some still said Thursday that the latest proposal brings too much traffic.

They also worried that the handful of two story homes will block their mountain views. But the developer agreed to remove two-story homes from the south side of the development, on Lee Street. Adding an entrance on Wrightstown Road instead of only using residential streets for access is also under consideration.

“I wouldn’t mind homes there, but not to intimidate the other neighbors and to bring us traffic problems and take away our views,” said neighborhood resident Kate Ryan, who called Pepper Viner’s agreement to remove two-story homes from Lee Street “a very good start.”

“I’m sorry the school got closed because it’s always nice to have a school in the neighborhood. But, I think that … the company, Pepper Viner, is known for good quality homes,” said neighborhood resident Rex Averett, who is also a retired TUSD teacher.

The recommendation won’t be known until the end of next week, and it won’t be in front of the council until late next month or early February.

By JD Wallace