Gold Canyon leaders have banded together to come up with a long-term development plan for the burgeoning community, a union that some people see as a step toward becoming a city.
Early last month, about 50 residents and representatives from several community organizations formed a committee to work on a land-use study for the Gold Canyon area.
Their findings will likely include a definition of Gold Canyon’s geographic boundaries, projected growth estimates and an evaluation of potential public works projects.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Bryan Martyn, Gold Canyon commission spokesman, said the study will define the future character of the area, so input from residents will be important.
“There’s no doubt any community can communicate more effectively when they’re all together,” Martyn said.
The commission plans to present its findings next year to the Pinal County Planning and Development Services Department.
The commission will include recommendations for managing future growth. County officials then will be able to incorporate the information into a regional study set for completion in early 2008.
County Supervisor Sandie Smith, D-District 2 of Gold Canyon, said it will be critical for county planners to consider input from Gold Canyon. Otherwise, the county might overlook improvements specific to the community.
“We’d come out with faulty study, because we’d just have outside folks working on it,” Smith said.
Many residents said drawing together community leaders signals that Gold Canyon is emerging as a full-fledged city. Martyn said members of the exploratory committee asked last month if incorporation as a city would be the best thing for Gold Canyon.
“I had to answer in the affirmative,” Martyn said. “But that is not the intent of this study.”
Incorporation of the remote, scenic area is a hot topic among residents and community leaders alike, Martyn said.
The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate there are more than 6,000 residents of Gold Canyon. The affluent community sits in northern Pinal County, where the population grew about 20 percent between 2000 and 2005.
Ed Sexton, a 59-year-old resident, said he opposed inco r p o rat i o n . Sexton, who bought land in the area in 1986, said community leaders already seemed to favor urbanization. It wouldn’t make sense to give them any more authority, Sexton said.
“In the long run, I don’t see any benefit for residents,” he said. “I just see it as another level of bureaucracy, rules and taxation.”
Because the community lies within six miles of an existing city, state law requires Gold Canyon to receive approval from Apache Junction before voting to form a city government. But in 2005, members of the Apache Junction City Council rejected a proposal to begin the process.
Apache Junction Vice Mayor R.E. Eck said it was unlikely his fellow council members and representatives from Gold Canyon would ever see eye to eye. He said Apache Junction likely would reject any Gold Canyon bid to incorporate.
Likewise, Gold Canyon residents probably would oppose annexation into Apache Junction, he said.
“I really believe the city’s position and Gold Canyon’s position are two separate entities,” Eck said. “Neither seems to care for each other in the long run.”