its all about increasing the city size so they can tax people and increase government revenues. the city of phoenix certainly won't provide the people in these new desert areas the same services they provide to other people - the webmaster


Phoenix seeks big land grab Has plans for Tempe-size area to north

Shaun McKinnon and Yvonne Wingett
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 5, 2002 12:00 AM

Fast-growing Phoenix is poised to burst the Valley's seams, extending north nearly to Yavapai County by annexing a chunk of undeveloped land the size of Tempe.

As many as 80,000 people could someday live and work along the 11-mile stretch of Interstate 17 north of the Carefree Highway. The City Council adopted a preliminary land-use blueprint Wednesday, though city planners say they don't expect to see any actual construction for 10 to 15 years.

The proposal has angered officials in Maricopa and Yavapai counties, who accused Phoenix of moving too far north too quickly. Supervisors in both counties passed resolutions opposing the annexation, but they lack authority to block it.

"For one, I just don't want the city of Phoenix that close to me, and I don't want it that close to Black Canyon City," Yavapai County Supervisor Lorna Street said.

The annexation would add 39 square miles to Phoenix, already the nation's fifth-largest city by area, and could place new strains on the region's transportation network, air quality and water supply. The draft plan adopted Wednesday does not specifically address those issues.

Neighboring Peoria, meanwhile, is preparing to annex about 14 square miles just west of the land Phoenix has claimed, creating a wide-open growth corridor that would someday stretch from I-17 west toward the White Tank Mountains and north to the county line.

Both annexation plans must first win approval from the State Selection Board, which considers any proposal that involves state trust land parcels. The three-member panel, composed of Gov. Jane Hull, Attorney General Janet Napolitano and Treasurer Carol Springer, meets today at the Capitol.

The smattering of people who live in the rugged area are watching the plan closely. Duane Loose moved 40 miles north of downtown Phoenix six years ago to escape traffic, noise and strip malls. The 43-year-old mechanical engineer, who lives adjacent to the proposed annexation area, wants to stop the development of high desert land that is home to saguaros, wildlife and trails.

"We're country people out here," said Loose, whose closest neighbor is a quarter-mile away. "It's very slow, very rural. I have total peace and quiet to take my dogs hiking and hang on the back of the porch and enjoy the peacefulness."

Under the plan, Phoenix will add a 15th village, or planning area, for the 65,000 to 80,000 people who are expected to be living there within two decades. Conceptual land-use plans also call for the creation of 35,000 to 70,000 jobs by the time the area is built out with retail businesses and industrial and public uses. About 11,100 acres will be set aside for parks, trails and open space.

Related link Far North Valley likely to be next hot spot Graphic: Plans carved out for northwestern Phoenix, Valley Poll: Is Phoenix's plan to annex 50 square miles north of the city limits a good idea?

Although building isn't expected there for at least 15 years, officials say, it is critical to pounce on the land now so the city can plan and control its development, which takes decades.

"We would rather get there first and have it go through our development processes vs. letting it happen in the county and then getting it piecemeal," said Alan Stephenson, a Phoenix planner. "(And) it takes a long time from a land-use standpoint . . . to look at transportation plans, water and sewer and open-space studies."

Despite questions from neighboring cities about Phoenix's motives, Phoenix officials say they're best-suited to oversee the area's growth.

"Nobody's going to be able to stop (growth)," said Rick Naimark, executive assistant to the Phoenix city manager. "The Valley's going to continue to grow. The real question is: Who has the capacity professionally to plan it to make sure it has the quality infrastructure and that sort of thing? We're protecting it from hodge-podge development."

Phoenix first proposed annexing much of the land more than two years ago but ran into opposition from Peoria, which had included some of the area in its long-range plans. The two cities clashed over their competing proposals but ultimately agreed to seek a compromise.

That compromise turned out to be 75th Avenue, said Debra Stark, Peoria's planning director. Peoria agreed to back off to that line, and Phoenix agreed not to cross it.

"If anything, I look at this as a good example of two cities coming together and actually working together in a joint planning effort, which doesn't happen that often," Stark said. She acknowledged that Peoria envisions lower-density development along its side of the land and may preserve a wide swath near Lake Pleasant.

Maricopa County Supervisor Andy Kunasek said he doesn't oppose most of the Phoenix annexation proposal but doesn't want to see Phoenix claim land he had hoped to preserve. He'll appear at the state board meeting today to propose a compromise by asking Phoenix to draw the line at the New River Road interchange on I-17.

In any case, both Phoenix and Peoria planners say there's still time to consider questions about growth and resources. Stark said Peoria foresees no development in the new areas for a decade or more, and Phoenix officials agreed.

"They're not going to bring anyone out there to be building a week or two weeks from now," Stephenson said.

Reporter Christina Leonard and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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