SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE

Surprise on track to annex 15 acres for Paloma Creek

Some residents not happy with attempt

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Nearby homeowners on county land and the local Surprise councilman only have an issue with one of two proposed annexations that would add onto the Paloma Creek development in the northwest corner of Surprise.

During the March 16 City Council meeting, Jane Peiffer called into voice her concerns with the Enclave IV at Paloma Creek annexation of roughly 10 acres of county land west of 159th Avenue. District 1 councilman Roland Winters represents that area of Surprise and was the only councilor to vote against the motion to record a blank petition setting fort the legal description and map of the proposed annexation.

The land proposed for that annexation sticks out like a building block north of the current Paloma Creek boarder. Ms. Peiffer, Mr. Winters and Maricopa County neighbors did not express concerns with the proposed Enclave III annexation, just east of 153rd Avenue, Paloma Creek’s current easternmost boundary.

“The folks up there don’t want this land nearby to be annexed because they feel it will ruin their lifestyle — horses on trails, ATVs and such,” Mr. Winters said in a March 18 interview. “That area is nice and laid back with lots of acreage. They have a piece of heaven.”

The official resolution of intent to annex will come later, as will two future public hearings. Developer KAX Group LLC would adopt rural residential zoning if annexed.

Ms. Peiffer lives in the area near where Paloma Creek Enclave IV is being proposed. Earlier this month she and four other area residents were at the initial meeting regarding the proposed annexation. Those attending the meeting included Kent Xander, the Paloma Creek developer at the head of KAX group.

“The only person even mildly in favor of this proposal is the landowner, Mr. Xander,” Ms. Peiffer said. “Everyone else is opposed. [We’re] not just concerned with traffic or effects on the natural habitation and vegetation in the area, we’re absolutely concerned with the vast change in the density of residents as well as the limitations the city will have in providing good services to potential residents.”

Paloma Creek sits on more than 200 acres off the northeast corner of 163rd Avenue and Happy Valley Road. No homes have been built on this land, annexed into Surprise in 2019, though a preliminary plat is advancing.

Mr. Xander also spoke during the council meeting and said his group has been transparent during the process

“We’ve been planning and zoning property out in this area for three to five years. We’ve totally disclosed to all neighbors what we’re doing. We’re pretty transparent. As a matter of fact I had a lot of dialogue with Jane at this meeting. We discussed setbacks and putting one-story homes on the east and north sides of the subdivision. I’ve lowered the lot count down from 37 to 31 and made the lots bigger,” Mr. Xander said.

Both Mr. Winters and Ms. Peiffer said they had difficulty finding out about the original meeting on the annexation proposal.

She also said it was only by happenstance that nearby residents found out there was a call to the public about the start of the annexation process at the council meeting.

“We are significantly concerned that because all of the property was picked up under the radar by one owner and deeds weren’t filed. The goal is to push it through before anybody catches wind of what’s going on,” Ms. Peiffer said.
As the presenter, Surprise Planner Joshua Mike pointed out March 16 the two presentations are not considered a public hearing.

Mr. Winters said he does not believe the difficulty finding out about that initial meeting in the area was caused by withholding information. But that is a vast open area right now and he understands why it’s difficult for nearby landowners to see the signs.

After all, he did not and missed the first meeting.

“I’m a district councilman and should be notified. I can’t catch every notice in the paper,” Mr. Winters said March 18.

During his March 16 presentation, Mr. Mike said both annexation cases should have a similar time line. The land is about halfway between Happy Valley and Jomax roads.

He expects the annexation petition to be signed in the next three months. Mr. Xander only has to work with one landowner willing to sell.

“In this case it is five parcels that are owned by one entity so we anticipate the return of those signatures would come back fairly quickly,” Mr. Mike said.
Less than 10 property owners border Enclave III, Mr. Mike said.

That proposed development shows there has “significant” open space, he said, more than the 20% required by Surprise. Plans also feature buffering on outside edges of properties bounding county land.

Enclave IV is a different matter, Mr. Mike said.

“There was significant concern with what was happening. It was similar to other annexation processes we’ve had. There is wide-open desert next to county rural residential residence. There are no real property lines visible out there,” Mike said.

While Enclave III has a preliminary plat that plans for medium-density zoning, its location makes it less worrisome to those on county land.

“This is going to sound contrary to what I said about Enclave IV but as far as the neighbors and what’s already been done, Enclave III makes much more sense. It is a direct continuation and not cutting out a notch like IV would be. Density is still higher than we would like but it does fit better with the overall plan. I haven’t spoken to the neighbors that far away yet, that area does tend to be properties closer together,” Ms. Peiffer said.

While Mr. Winters said in the future he wants better communication so more north Surprise and Maricopa County residents are heard earlier when more changes can be made, he also said Mr. Xander’s track record has him more at ease.

“I noticed one thing about Kent,” Mr. Winters said. “He’s a pretty up-front guy. With the first Paloma Creek annexation, neighboring residents didn’t want two-story homes close by. On a handshake he promised them a row of one-story homes and kept the promise.”

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