SAN TAN VALLEY — The incorporation effort, in its current form, is over in San Tan Valley.
Shea Homes sent a letter to Pinal County and the steering committee of Vote San Tan Valley certifying that Shea would not give permission to parties seeking to submit the petition for the community’s incorporation.
A steering committee press release described residents’ hopes for incorporation as “shattered.”
This puts an end to the map proposed by the committee because communities under “declarant control,” meaning decisions for the property are made by the developer and not a homeowners association, must give permission to the county Board of Supervisors for a petition to move forward.
The community of Encanterra off Gantzel Road was included in its entirety in the proposed map and was under declarant control. The steering committee would have to start from scratch to take Encanterra off the map, and taking it off would create a county island, or an area surrounded by city land. The Board of Supervisors has the ability to approve a county island but stated its opposition to doing so clearly in a public meeting.
Shea Homes Regional Project Manager Rob Izer and General Manager Levi Shill were behind the letter that was sent out to stakeholders. The letter was sent following a meeting between Shill and Vickigene Howard from the steering committee.
The meeting has caused a rift between members of the steering committee.
“Unfortunately at that particular meeting one of our steering committee members violated protocol and met with Shea on her own,” steering committee member Rey Torres said.
According to Torres, misinformation was given at the meeting that was not representative of the committee’s position, leading to a misunderstanding that “we would not be grandfathering in the agreements that were created by the county to any of the new developers that already had developments in Pinal County. One of the assured things is that we would have to grandfather that in for at least the first full year. ... As a result one of the unintended consequences is that Shea probably took that and used it to justify that they weren’t going to support incorporation.”
Howard said that she acted with the committee’s knowledge and that the meeting with Shea Homes was about much more than agreements with the county. Julie Phillips, also on the steering committee, supported Howard.
“Rey Torres does not speak for me and does not speak, as far as I’m concerned, for the steering committee,” Phillips said. “He’s speaking for himself. Other members of the steering committee can give their version. I do not agree with what he’s saying. Vickigene Howard did not go rogue.”
Howard said that due to the precedent set by the case Home Builders Association of Central Arizona vs. the City of Maricopa, the honoring of contracts previously made with the county was never in question in the new municipality.
“Levi Shill wanted answers I couldn’t give him,” Howard said. “He wanted to know who is going to be on the first Town Council that has to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors, who they’re going to pick. (The Board of Supervisors) don’t even know. ... So I couldn’t give Levi the answers he wanted. He also wanted to know what the budget would be and where the Town Council would meet. Those were answers that I couldn’t give him.”
Neither Shill nor Shea Homes returned a request for comment.
A letter sent out to residents of Encanterra by Rob Izer said that Queen Creek is taking steps toward annexing Encanterra and the surrounding properties, and that since the community was also in the proposed San Tan Valley municipal boundaries, that Shea Homes would file a declaration of exclusion to buy time for homeowners to “consider their options.”
However, the company soon moved to take one of those options off the table by formally withholding permission for the San Tan Valley incorporation. The letter sent out to stakeholders, including the Board of Supervisors and the steering committee, cites the illegality of the map under ARS 9.101, and not agreements with the county.
“The proposed map, and this the Petition, does not represent the incorporation of a properly designated urban community,” it reads, “and does not comply with Arizona law.”
There was no lack of support from the community for the petition. Phillips said the committee had collected the signatures it needed. Opposition from surrounding powers shut it down. Phillips added that only one declarant out of 11 had signed that they were in favor of incorporation.
Despite disagreements about the fallout, the three held firm that San Tan Valley needed to incorporate to effectively represent its own interests.
Torres said that further options were already being considered.
“We’re not at liberty to discuss right now, because we are exploring those options,” Torres said. “We’re not going to say that it puts an end to it at all. What we’re not sure about is what the incorporation effort looks like in the future, if it looks similar to the incorporation effort we just previously tried or if it’s going to take another form, whether that be in leadership or another map or a different verbiage in our petition. We’re going to be looking at other options to make sure that we choose the best course.”