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One of 2 Paloma Creek annexation plans stagnates

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The Surprise Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation of disapproval for rezoning of Enclave IV at Paloma Creek on April 15 will also change the time line for that 10-acre parcel’s potential annexation.

Enclave III at Paloma Creek remains on track for an annexation decision on May 18. That parcel of slightly more than 5 acres received less opposition from Maricopa County residents living nearby.

Developer Kent Xander, with KAX Group Inc., requested a continuation of the Enclave IV annexation discussion to a date later than in May, allowing for more talks with the city and the county residents.

“There was a lot of valid opposition to that one,” Councilman Patrick Duffy said.

Twelve county residents spoke during the annexation discussion before the council April 20.

As county resident Jane Peiffer said, this is the only forum for non-Surprise residents to voice concerns in the official annexation process.

“We are outside of the city limits but we are inside the city growth planning area. Everything the city of Surprise does affects us but we don’t get to vote on anything,” Ms. Peiffer said. “I did reach out to [Maricopa County] Supervisor [Clint] Hickman’s office and asked what is the back and forth between the city and the county on this.”

A total of 206 residents just north of Paloma Creek signed a petition opposing the two proposed annexations.

“In accordance with state statute, the city contacted the Arizona Department of Revenue and Maricopa County Assessor. Both agencies provided technical information regarding the specific properties, but did not include any support or opposition to the annexation proposal. The city also reached out to Maricopa County Department of Transportation and Maricopa County Planning Department regarding [rights of way] in the area. The city is collaborating on how to maintain access to 159th Ave from Prickly Pear Trail,” Surprise Community Development Director Mr. Boyd stated in an email.

He also stated all comments, concerns and questions are accepted and reviewed by the city, regardless of being a Surprise or county resident. Similar to any development application proposal, the city review balances private property owner requests with the impact on nearby properties.

Sue Tingle’s property touches the northwest corner of Enclave IV. She said she discovered the annexation and zoning proposals by accident.

“By the maps that were included, I did not realize that it touched my property,” Ms. Tingle said April 15. “This is a way of life for us out there and to have this infringement on our way of life troubles me greatly. It was our dream home, to be out there. We have wildlife that comes up to our property. To hear it in the middle of the night brings joy. All of that will be taken away and people will be there instead of wildlife.”

That is the gist of county residents’ opposition to Enclave III. County resident Mark Graham spoke out April 15 against a concurrent annexation and zoning process.

“Somehow the developer knows when he buys that property, near county rural, one house per acre, that he would be able to get it rezoned and annexed. I’m very disturbed that any developer would be so confident that he would spend millions of dollars buying properties, knowing that their annexation and rezoning was a forgone conclusion,” Mr. Graham said.

The opposition to annexation of Enclave IV is simple. It is bigger with denser housing proposed. And it backs up to the doorstep of this county neighborhood.

It pokes north of the majority of Paloma Creek, including the proposed Enclave IV.

“I’m not anti-Surprise. I shop in Surprise. I spend all of my money in Surprise. I come into Surprise,” Ms. Peiffer said at the April 15 planning commission meeting. “I’m not anti-development. I just want smart development that makes sense in good, strategic locations. And I honestly believe you do too.”

She also said the city’s annexation is permissive, not required.

Councilman Roland Winters asked April 20 if the developer eventually would develop the land if the city chooses not to annex it.

“Since we own it, yes,” Mr. Xander said. “I don’t know if we’re going to do it, but sometime that property will probably be developed.”

The effects of more homes coming soon at nearby Tierra Verde is already being felt by residents who moved to the rural desert area for specific reasons.

“We moved here 12 years ago. My husband is a retired fire chief. He’s a 9/11 first responder and he’s got some severe certified conditions by the government, one of which is asthma. In the last several months it’s really kicking in very bad for him,” Sally Hitchcock said. “It’s being pushed out we can’t even do anything with our horses anymore.”

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