SAN TAN VALLEY — The Arizona Corporation Commission deferred action on extending Johnson Utilities’ Certificates of Convenience and Necessity to areas set for new developments in Pinal County until a decision is made on the appointment of an interim manager.
The commission had approved an extension of its water and sewer CC&Ns, which allows a water and sewage utility to provide services to customers in specific areas, to include the developments known as Monterra South, Monterra North, Montessa, Florence Plaza and portions of Walker Butte in Pinal County. However, the developments were delayed due to the recession, and now the utility is requesting an extension.
The towns of Florence and Queen Creek filed a letter in the docket despite not being part of the case requesting that the ACC defer action for an additional evidentiary proceeding, arguing that the hearing to appoint an interim manager established a record that shows the utility is seriously being mismanaged.
Blake McKee, a property owner seeking to develop in the Montessa area, filed a letter urging the commission to approve the extension as to not punish developers needlessly.
Denying the extension would needlessly create another barrier and effectively eliminate any possibility of development, he said, arguing that a decision to deny would be “politically motivated.”
“Montessa carries a significant land basis and this economic reality has resulted in a slower-than-anticipated development schedule. Denying the extension to comply with decision 7041 would needlessly create another barrier and effectively eliminate any possibility of development,” McKee writes. “The only one that gets damaged in this scenario is the property owner that needs utility service.”
McKee adds that the cost of reapply for utility service in the case of a denial of the extension request would take nine months and cost $30,000.
The commission weighed the arguments presented by developers carefully, particularly their pleas for certainty of conditions in which to begin construction, but ultimately decided to delay taking action until they held their public meeting in July to decide on the appointment of an interim manager.
“If anyone thinks there is any certainty in what is happening out in the Johnson Utilities service area, they are missing the point,” Commissioner Andy Tobin said, citing recent water rationing, raw sewage spills and other evidence in the record for the evidentiary hearing to appoint an interim manager. “Ultimately our responsibility is to the people who will eventually be paying utility bills in those homes.”