Queen Creek officials have scrapped their third attempt in five years to annex 642 acres of Maricopa County land southeast of town, vowing not to try again unless the area’s residents request it.
The Town Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to stop the annexation attempts, which have engendered resident disputes, a civil lawsuit and a bill working its way through the Legislature that would make it more difficult for cities to annex unincorporated land.
Queen Creek Mayo r Wendy Feldman-Kerr said the town withdrew the latest attempt because it was aggravating tensions among neighbors living in the area, bounded roughly by Cloud Road to the north, Meridian Road to the east, Riggs Road to the south and Crismon Road to the west.
But, a land use attorney hired by one landowner said Queen Creek simply did not have enough support to meet the legal annexation requirements.
More than half of the property owners must sign, as well as the owners of more than 50 percent of the land’s total assessed value.
"They did not come close to getting the signatures they needed," said Jordan Rose, attorney for landowner Keith Jorde, who owns about 480 acres of the county island.
Queen Creek public works coordinator Joe LaFortune said the town could have continued until October to persuade more residents to sign, but officials did not want to prolong the tense situation.
In March 2003, Jorde and another landowner filed a lawsuit claiming Queen Creek was using "gerrymandering" tactics to force them into the town limits. They asked Maricopa County Superior Court to issue a restraining order to prevent the annexation.
Although town officials said they broke no laws, Queen Creek withdrew the annexation and filed a second attempt in November.
Meanwhile, Jorde and Rose organized several neighborhood meetings to persuade homeowners not to annex. Residents were asked to sign a document promising not to agree to annexation, in exchange for having the neighborhood’s dirt roads paved with asphalt by Jorde.
Rose said now that the annexation attempt is dead, Jorde plans to have the roads paved by summer, at a cost of about $200,000.