Jan 29, 2024 - News

San Tan incorporation effort eyes 2025 election while county and state work out land issues

A man points to a map on a large screen while people in folding chairs watch.

STV Inc. 2024 board member Tyler Hudgins discusses a proposed map of San Tan Valley last July. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

The effort to incorporate San Tan Valley as Arizona's newest city will take a little longer than anticipated because the incorporation campaign, Pinal County and the state must resolve issues involving a key piece of state land in the proposed boundaries.

Driving the news: Rather than push for an election in November, STV Inc. 2024 is looking to put the incorporation question on the ballot in May 2025, board member and spokesperson Tyler Hudgins tells Axios Phoenix.

  • That six-month delay will provide more time for Pinal County and the Arizona State Land Department to deal with a piece of state trust land in the proposed map.

The big picture: The proposed boundaries of San Tan Valley include a chunk of state trust land bordered by Encanterra to the north, Johnson Ranch to the south and Skyline Ranch to the west.

State of play: The land department isn't opposed to San Tan Valley incorporating or its boundaries including the trust land in question, but it wants to ensure appropriate zoning and entitlements, department spokesperson Lynn C贸rdova tells Axios.

  • The land is currently zoned as General Rural, which is often used as a placeholder to meet statutory requirements that state trust land have one dwelling unit per acre, C贸rdova says.
  • No specific entitlements have been identified yet, but, she says, they will be developed in consideration of several factors, including the department's status as the land's trustee, the site's physical opportunities and constraints, surrounding development and the county's preexisting plans for the area.

The intrigue: The department can challenge the inclusion of state trust land in the proposed municipal boundaries.

Why it matters: Other state trust land has been removed from the proposed map, but Hudgins says the remaining plot is critical to San Tan Valley's future commercial and industrial growth.

  • "We didn't want to move forward with a map that didn't include these lands," he says.

Of note: The county and the department will meet this week to discuss the logistics of a zoning case for the tract.

  • Pinal County's land use plan for San Tan Valley designates the state trust land as being for urban center, urban transitional and suburban office use.
  • County spokesperson James Daniels says it's important to ensure the land is developed in the best interests of the community.

What's next: The incorporation campaign is hoping to get approval from the county to move forward with a finalized map, then begin collecting signatures to refer the issue to the ballot.

  • Hudgins emphasizes it's not a hard deadline.

Catch up quick: Previous efforts to incorporate San Tan Valley in 2005, 2010 and 2018 were unsuccessful.

  • STV Inc. launched its campaign last year.
  • The campaign estimates San Tan Valley's population would be around 100,000 people.
  • San Tan Valley residents would have more control over local services and decisions in an incorporated city, which would have access to state revenue pools that it currently doesn't get, but residents would also pay higher taxes in return.
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