San Tan Valley Area Information

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Encanterra Annexation Challenged in Court

encanterra-annexation-challenged Encanterra Residents Against Annexation File Lawsuit Challenging Annexation Petition

A challenge against the Encanterra annexation petition was filed in Pinal County Superior Court by the "Encanterra Residents Against Annexation."  The suit was filed on Friday, November 15th, 2019, which was the last day for a challenge to be filed.  Had the challenge not been filed, the annexation would have gone into effect at 8am Monday morning, November 18th, 2019.

HISTORY

The effort to annex the master planned community of Encanterra into the Town of Queen Creek began during San Tan Valley's most recent attempt to allow residents in the community to vote on whether or not they wanted to become their own Town of San Tan Valley.  After HB 2088 was signed by the Governor on Feb 21, 2017, finally giving San Tan Valley residents the ability to qualify for an election without fear of smaller neighboring towns blocking their right to vote, a steering committee was put together to bring an initiative to the ballot.  It was during this process in Dec 2017, that Levi Shill, a Shea Homes Executive, learned that he could annex Encanterra into the Town of Queen Creek, an opportunity that had not been available to Encanterra, until the Town of Queen Creek annexed Banner Ironwood.  While HB2088 stopped San Tan Valley from needing Queen Creek's approval to vote on incorporation, the Town of Queen Creek made it clear that they opposed the effort, in particular the map, claiming that it included parts of Queen Creek's "planning area".    

In March of 2018, Levi Shill exercised his right as a declarant, to remove Encanterra from the proposed incorporation map.  Shortly after in April of 2018, the Town of Queen Creek filed a lawsuit against the steering committee members in an attempt to block the initiative from getting to a ballot, preventing the residents of San Tan Valley from having their first chance to vote on their future.  While the initiative could have proceeded to a ballot, the required number of signatures were not collected within the six month timeline and the vote on incorporation never qualified for the ballot.  

In June of 2018, less than two months later, an annexation effort to annex Encanterra into the Town of Queen Creek began.  Ironically, Encanterra had never been in the Town of Queen Creek's planning area.  It also wasn't included in the most recent planning area map, voted on by the town's voters in Spring of 2019.  

By December 2018, a petition had been filed by Leah Gumm, a resident of Encanterra, and the process to collect signatures began.  Unlike an incorporation effort where only registered voters and citizens of the US can sign the petition and later vote on the effort, annexation petitions can be signed by anyone who is a property owner, regardless of citizenship or ability to vote in any elections in the US or in Arizona.  An annexation effort also allows for a twelve month timeline to collect signatures, versus six months for an incorporation vote.

The pro annexation group, with the help of Shea and the Town of Queen Creek, spent the next ten months trying to convince the required 50% plus 1 of the property owners that annexation was in Encanterra's best interest.  Initially the pro annexation group believed that the annexation would be completed in early 2019.  However it took until October 8th, 2019 before the number of signatures required were submitted.  On October 16th 2019, the Town of Queen Creek accepted the annexation petition and welcomed Encanterra into their town.  

The anti-annexation group however thought the welcome was a bit premature.  By statute, once the Town accepted the petition, a thirty day waiting period went into effect before the annexation would be official.  It is during this timeframe that a challenge to the petition could be filed.  

Encanterra Residents Against Annexation, a non-profit Arizona corporation, filed a lawsuit (Case #:S1100CV201901736) challenging the annexation petition on three counts:

  • COUNT ONE: DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF—AN INSUFFICIENT NUMBER OF REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY OWNERS SIGNED THE PETITION SHEET AND AS A RESULT THE ORDINANCE ADOPTING THE ENCANTERRA ANNEXATION IS NULL AND VOID AND INEFFECTIVE
  • COUNT TWO: DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF: THE TOWN FAILED TO FOLLOW THE PROPER PROCEDURES FOR ANNEXATION AND AS A RESULT THE ORDINANCE PURPORTING TO ANNEXTHE TOWN IS NULL AND VOID AND OF NO EFFECT
  • COUNT THREE: DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF: THE TOWN FAILED TO HOLD THE REQUISITE PUBLIC HEARING TO ADOPT THE ANNEXATION ORDINANCE AND AS A RESULT THE ORDINANCE PURPORTING TO ANNEX THE TOWN IS NULL AND VOID AND OF NO EFFECT


As a result of the challenge, the annexation is on hold until a decision is rendered by the Court.

According to the Town of Queen Creek's website, "The Town is working to oppose the challenge and to encourage a prompt decision. Contests (challenges) are given priority over all other civil cases, except election actions.
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Comments

Gayle Peters on Tuesday, 19 November 2019 12:37

Annexation to QC would bring Encanterra more taxes and fees without a single benefit (yes, we already have libraries here in Pinal County.) San Tan Valley is a beautiful area adjacent to Queen Creek where we aren't governed by a municipality based out of another county. Sheriff Mark Lamb has received national recognition for his work here in Pinal County. Rural Metro is part of an international corporation focused on patient care and transport. Queen Creek has nothing we need of which to be envious.

Annexation to QC would bring Encanterra more taxes and fees without a single benefit (yes, we already have libraries here in Pinal County.) San Tan Valley is a beautiful area adjacent to Queen Creek where we aren't governed by a municipality based out of another county. Sheriff Mark Lamb has received national recognition for his work here in Pinal County. Rural Metro is part of an international corporation focused on patient care and transport. Queen Creek has nothing we need of which to be envious.
Guest - Stanley on Tuesday, 19 November 2019 21:11

Is this an editorial? It certainly sounds like one.
The author used the word "ironic" in the article. What's truly "ironic" is that the folks that are butt-hurt about the annexation saw no problem with including "unwilling" rural residents in their ill-fated incorporation effort. Doesn't feel so good to be "run over" and "told" what you're going to do, does it?

Is this an editorial? It certainly sounds like one. The author used the word "ironic" in the article. What's truly "ironic" is that the folks that are butt-hurt about the annexation saw no problem with including "unwilling" rural residents in their ill-fated incorporation effort. Doesn't feel so good to be "run over" and "told" what you're going to do, does it?
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