Ranch

Work is ongoing at the former Rio Rico Golf Course, seen here on Saturday, Oct. 12, as the new owner turns the property into a ranch.

The land that was once home to the Rio Rico Golf Club is being redeveloped as a ranch, according to property owner Andrew Jackson.

“It’s a beautiful property and we just couldn’t bear to see it die,” Jackson told the NI on Oct. 8. “We didn’t think it made a very good statement in the community as another failed business, so we were anxious to kind of save it from dying off.”

He added that he plans to combine the land with other adjacent property he owns, with the former golf course serving as the ranch headquarters.

New Mexico-based Heritage Hotels and Resorts put the golf course and Esplendor Resort in southwest Rio Rico up for sale last fall. Documents filed with the county showed that a Jackson-affiliated company purchased the golf course property at the south end of Pendleton Drive on May 19 for $730,000, and work crews began leveling the site shortly afterward.

Jackson, whose Baca Float No. 3 company operates an alfalfa and barley farm along the Santa Cruz River in Rio Rico and Tumacacori, was unavailable at the time to comment on his plans for the property. But when reached last week, he said that like his other properties in the area, he plans to grow a harvestable crop at the former golf course to justify the cost of fixing the wells and irrigation, as well as to keep the land looking green.

“We’re going to put up rail fences and pasture, some horses and cattle – just enough to create a setting, so to speak,” he said, adding that he will also grow alfalfa and barley at the site.

Jackson added that he had already met with the appropriate county departments to make his plans known, and everything is set to move forward.

Frank Dillon, the county community development director, confirmed that Jackson “applied for and was granted an agricultural exemption for the property.”

Dillon added that the designation typically exempts property owners from local zoning and building requirements, though they still must abide by floodplain regulations for agricultural structures.

“We’re working very hard. You can see part of the progress a little bit,” Jackson said, adding that he hoped to have the irrigation fixed by the end of the year.

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