The Maricopa City Council approved plans Dec. 18 to move forward with its planned annexation in a new form, shrinking the swath of land to be annexed from 46 square miles to roughly 14.
After hearing a large number of negative responses from residents in the Thunderbird Farms area, the city made the move to hedge its bets and annex the area where the residents appeared to be nearly 2-to-1 in favor of the annexation. Councilmember Will Dunn said this allowed the city to accomplish its major goals of protecting economic corridors and blocking further annexation from Goodyear, while not gambling on the annexation failing by incorporating the entire area.
“We need to protect the economic corridor of SR 238,” Dunn said. “This is an important step we took and there is a very important need for this. We’ve got an opportunity here and we are moving appropriately.”
According to Dunn, the resident surveys mailed out to those in the initial annexation area came back most strongly in favor of the plan in the northern section of the county land, north of Bowlin Road. Dunn said that while the rest of the area will not be part of the annexation for now, it doesn’t mean the city doesn’t have a plan to attempt to annex there in the future.
“We can do this (annexation) in phases,” he said. “In this chunk, we are going to take the folks who are ready.”
Project Manager Nicole Dailey said because the initial petition was filed on April 17 and the city has 13 months to complete the annexation, staff and council would be working on a truncated timetable to get annexation of the 14 square miles through by the May 17 deadline.
A new round of community meetings will be set for late January or early February, she said, at which time the city would begin collecting signatures for the annexation. The city needs 51 percent of the landowners to sign off on the annexation in order for it to succeed.
While the Fiscal Impact Analysis report indicated that the city would be able to absorb the new area into the city financially, Dailey said a goal of the annexation was to have the council give staff direction on a plan to provide infrastructure and service to that new area before the annexation is finalized. If all goes according to plan, the annexation would come back for council approval May 6 and the land would officially become part of the city limits by June 6.
Interim City Manager and Finance Director Roger Kolman said the FIA showed annexation of the entire area would “bring a net zero effect on the general fund side.”
Mayor Kelly Anderson was not as sure about the rosy financial prognostications.
“We haven’t seen the worst of times yet (economically),” the mayor said. “I just see this impact analysis as weak in my mind. I think we need to proceed with caution.”
The council, however, did have many of its fears relieved by taking the annexation in a much smaller chunk at a time.
“One of my initial concerns was that the area we were annexing was so large and overwhelmingly so,” Vice Mayor Brent Murphree said. “I am more than satisfied that this phasing process is going to be beneficial to the city.”