FLORENCE — Pinal County planners would like to widen the area covered by the San Tan Area Plan, adding further protections to the rural lifestyle of those residents.
The Board of Supervisors discussed this and other pending major amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan in a work session Wednesday.
County staff proposed adding some 932 acres west of the current San Tan Area Plan plan, with boundaries north of Arizona Farms Road. This will not result in zoning changes for the affected property owners and residents. A neighborhood meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, at Johnson Ranch Elementary School.
The amendment would increase the San Tan Area Plan from a total of 71 to 72.5 square miles, and make the plan essentially as large as possible before infringing on the planning areas of the towns of Florence and Queen Creek, Planning Manager Steve Abraham told the supervisors. Future annexations by either town could also reduce the footprint of the plan, he said.
Supervisor Pete Rios, D-Dudleyville, said he was disappointed that no citizens offered comments on the proposed plan amendments. People appear to be “disengaged,” and unaware of what the supervisors are doing, which is “a sad commentary,” he said.
The supervisors will consider final action on major amendments to the Comprehensive Plan on Oct. 23, and will consider “re-adoption” of the county’s 2009 plan. State law requires counties to adopt a Comprehensive Plan every 10 years.
Supervisor Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, said the Comprehensive Plan should have more to say about water. “I think we should get to work on a real serious water component to this.”
The Comprehensive Plan’s goals are to manage growth, preserve quality of life, promote sustainability and promote economic vitality to maintain Pinal County as a vibrant and healthy region.
Another amendment, requested by a developer, would change more than 700 acres designated as a medium-high-density “activity center” in favor of moderate-low-density residential in the Maricopa area. An “activity center” in the Comprehensive Plan may include schools, business parks, commercial and retail areas.
Seth Keeler, with developer W Holdings, told the supervisors the market won’t support that type of development in the place the county’s plan proposes, and he can’t ask for zoning changes until this is corrected. If the supervisors approve the major amendment, “what you’ll see is a really well-executed master plan,” and if Interstate 11 is built, “we’re ready for it,” Keeler said.
According to a county staff report, “the Midway project will focus its development intensity adjacent to the I-11 corridor as an anchor to drive development, and as a catalyst for the eventual development of surrounding employment land uses, as well as supporting commercial and residential uses.”
Another developer is asking for 37,370 acres to be excluded from the Falcon Valley Area Plan in the Saddlebrooke area in southeastern Pinal County, so that development may be directly guided by the county’s Comprehensive Plan.
Another amendment would change approximately 795 acres from moderate-low-density residential and employment to green energy production for the Casa Grande Carmel Solar Park on Interstate 8.
Yet another amendment would require green energy land use re-designations up to 640 acres to be non-major Comprehensive Plan amendments. Big developments would still require a review for the potential impacts of a large construction footprint.
Supervisor Anthony Smith, R-Maricopa, said the county needs to ask those who are proposing green energy projects, “Does this help you? Are we on the right track?”