QUEEN CREEK — A renewed effort to get San Tan Valley incorporation up for a vote has resulted in a neighboring town suing Pinal County.
In a special session Thursday, the Queen Creek Town Council voted unanimously to move forward with a lawsuit against the Pinal County Board of Supervisors and the Elections Department supervisor in their official capacities over the petition filed with the county over the incorporation of San Tan Valley.
The complaint will be filed in Pinal County Superior Court in coming days.
Vote San Tan Valley filed more than 5,000 signatures, an amount exceeding the total necessary to get incorporation on the ballot.
Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney said that he voted to sue because “it’s consistent with what we’ve been saying all along,” referring to a resolution the council passed in November.
That declared that the current map filed was illegal on the grounds that it does not comprise an area that qualifies as “a body of people that resides in more or less proximity having common interests in such services as public health, public protection and water, which bind together the people of the areas, and where the people are acquainted and mingle in business, social, educational and recreational activities,” as defined by statute.
Queen Creek Town Attorney Scott Holcomb said in that meeting that as many as four communities could be identified in the area. He also argued that the steering committee was illegally including rural areas and bypassing the proper use of the annexation process.
Queen Creek, which is mostly in Maricopa County but crosses into Pinal, also has plans to annex the San Tan Valley community Encanterra and the surrounding areas, which are included in the San Tan Valley incorporation map. The developer of Encanterra, Shea Homes, has tried to put a stop to the incorporation by denying permission under its powers as a “declarant,” or a developer still responsible for community amenities.
“We still think they have self-determination, but we have to protect Queen Creek as well,” Barney said after the council passed the resolution, referring to the parts of the map that include Queen Creek’s planning area.
Holcomb said that the town will be suing based on the issues with the map he outlined in the November resolution. The complaint will also include the lack of resolutions from neighboring municipalities, such as Gilbert, as well as Queen Creek and Florence, which Holcomb argues are necessary because declarants did not give permission to incorporate. State law recently removed the need for permission from the towns of Queen Creek and Florence. The issue of declarant control is the subject of a dispute between the parties.
The steering committee has maintained that is confident of standing on solid legal ground.
Members also have said that the majority of San Tan Valley supports their cause. They recently released the preliminary findings of an internal survey they commissioned that they say shows 70 percent of San Tan Valley residents support incorporation if an election were held now.