SAN TAN VALLEY — A map for the annexation of the Encanterra gated community and the surrounding neighborhoods has been submitted to the town of Queen Creek.
The map is included as part of a pre-application by Encanterra resident Leah Gumm that includes an area substantially larger than the subdivision, causing controversy and feeding criticism that Queen Creek is on a land-grabbing spree.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by resident Jared McGowan to raise money to oppose further annexation of San Tan Valley by Queen Creek.
“Take a look at the map — I think you’ll see that AGAIN the land grab is something QC is becoming a pro at,” McGowan wrote on the page. “Encanterra is only a tiny bit of what QC wants. This annexation effort, like Ironwood Crossings, is NOT about the residents but about taking the commercial that QC wants, cutting STV in half and gaining access to the North/South Corridor (future freeway).”
The page said all the funds raised through the campaign will be used to fight the Queen Creek “land grab machine” through mailers, handouts, websites, signs and events.
Queen Creek was a Maricopa County town but has spread into northern Pinal County.
The map that has been submitted is not a final map for annexation. A public hearing will need to be held to notify all property owners, and a petition must be signed by more than half of the property owners representing more than half the assessed value in the area to be annexed. The effort then will be subject to a vote by the Queen Creek Town Council.
Councilman Jeff Brown, speaking for himself, said that he personally would not vote for the annexation map that was received by the town because it was too large. He does support the annexation of the Encanterra subdivision, along with the Fry’s shopping center, which has been in the Queen Creek planning area for two decades.
“It’s not true that Queen Creek opposes San Tan Valley incorporation,” Brown said. “There’s been so much misinformation and people have misconstrued actions or worried that there’s this big play on behalf of Queen Creek, just annex basically large swaths of San Tan Valley.”
Brown noted that he has in the past written letters to editors and supported resolutions of support to toss out the 6-mile approval rule that long hampered incorporation attempts.
The most recent incorporation attempt ran into a number of obstacles, one of which was the refusal of Shea Homes, the developers of Encanterra, to grant permission. Proponents also failed to submit enough valid signatures to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.
“I’m OK with Encanterra as it’s comprised of actual residents and landowners who would get a say,” Brown said. “Whereas anything east or north of there, which is on that map, those folks don’t even exist there yet and I’d be taking away their future rights. But even greater than that is the fact that it’s already designated with respect to zoning, and the numbers are huge and would require Queen Creek to go back to the drawing board on how to provide services.”
He added that he felt it would be unfair to annex the commercial areas to the north and to the east of Ironwood at Ocotillo, and that they should be left for residents in now-unincorporated areas to incorporate.
“I believe they should be incorporated,” Brown said. “It’s what’s best for the community,” adding that the previous attempt did not take into account input from enough area stakeholders, was too large and had an unrealistic budget.
The county has been working on an area plan for San Tan Valley, but Steve Abraham, who is overseeing the program, said that since the plan won’t be adopted for another seven months, and Queen Creek has been working with the county on the plan, the county would be able to take the annexation into account.
“They’ve been partners with us during this process from day one,” Abraham said. “So in terms of the geographical standpoint, I think it is somewhat odd to have that kind of reach-over, but then if it was there and from the beginning, we would be able to accommodate that because we’re talking about land use.”