water management

Supervisors table water district hearing

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PHOENIX — A hearing on a proposed water district at Wednesday’s Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting led to a postponement.

After hearing from the main person interesting in forming an irrigation district for the Medlock Place neighborhood, along with three opponents to the formation of the district, the board agreed to postpone an impact statement hearing to an upcoming meeting.

A committee of residents hoping to form a Medlock Place Irrigation Water Delivery District has filed an impact statement with the board. The board could have voted Wednesday on whether to accept that statement.

However, District 2 Supervisor and Board Chair Bill Gates voted for a motion for the impact statement to be postponed until the board’s Nov. 2 meeting.

Gates encouraged the opposing parties to meet and talk with each other in the weeks ahead. The Medlock Place neighborhood is in Uptown, in a part of Phoenix south of Missouri Avenue, between Seventh and Central avenues.

“We’re happy to help, as a board, to convene communications between disagreeing parties,” Gates said. “We’ll be checking in with you, so that we won’t be sitting here Nov. 2, saying ‘So, what happened, guys?’”

Rick Mountjoy identified himself as a member of the Medlock Irrigation District Organizing Committee. He said what motivated him to get involved, at the start of 2022, was that the longstanding corps of volunteers in the neighborhood needs to be formalized and regularly funded as a district.

“I believe this is the oldest irrigated area in the metro, formed in 1926,” Mountjoy said. “Some of our volunteers are older residents. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it will put our organization on sound footing, with trustees and a means of replacing those trustees.”

Mountjoy says the estimated tax impact to landowners within district boundaries would be about $340 per acre annually, or about $90 per year for those who own the average quarter-acre-size lots in the district.

Rob Risley, a resident of the area who lives just a few doors from Mountjoy, spoke in opposition to the formation of the district. He read from a multi-page letter he sent to the board, complete with charts and statutes, said the pro-district group is misinforming the public about costs, potential costs and tax levy ability.

Pat Mahoney also spoke in opposition. As an owner of two Central Avenue office buildings, he said there are about eight commercial properties in the proposed boundaries of the tax district, while no irrigation lines run to those properties.

“We don’t have a seat at the right table,” he said, suggesting a residential-centered district not include commercial properties. “We might even be willing to contribute to this district. Irrigation is something residential neighborhoods should have. But we get no benefits, and I request we have a 60- or 90-day delay to sit down and talk about the boundaries.”

Joan Mason said she received notice of the district’s proposed creation, she was “taken aback,” as the formation of more small districts that are meant to secure and consume more water, rather than less.

“Medlock, really, is no longer a neighborhood of Oleanders and pine trees, and it should change,” Mason said. “We should be going in the other direction. There should be incentives to stop irrigation.”

In addition to two other opposition letters in the agenda packet for Wednesday’s meeting, one letter included the claim the costs in taxes don’t justify the formation of the district.

If the board determines that the public health, comfort, convenience, necessity, or welfare will be promoted, the board “shall approve” the district impact statement, a bond of $250, and authorize the committee proposing the district to circulate landowner petitions with proposed boundaries of the district.

Irrigation, water, water rights, water management, water allocation, water