There’s a lull in incorporation efforts in the San Tan area of the East Valley, but that doesn’t mean no one is thinking about local governance.
As incorporation determination for the area southeast of Queen Creek has waxed and waned, some residents have been calling for an alternative solution — a community council.
Leaders of the Better Living Coalition will be discussing the concept next week and likely presenting it and other alternatives at public meetings later this fall, said Gordon Brown, a coalition member.
Growth is forcing residents of the unincorporated area in Pinal County to make choices on local governance.
"There’s more people than there used to be and more opinions than there used to be, too," Brown said. The choices include incorporating as a new city, annexing into an existing city, forming a community council or not making any changes as county residents.
The coalition is contemplating ways to fund a study by planners from Arizona State University to help decide what might work best, Brown said.
A similar study completed by University of Arizona graduate planning students earlier this year recommended a community council for Arizona City, in south central Pinal County.
Ultimately, it will be up to residents to decide if a community council is right for San Tan and then define how it would work, Brown said. He has suggested that the council would work with the support of Pinal County government to support and plan for a diversity in lifestyle choices in the area.
Residents already have differing opinions on how a community council might work. Some think it represents a permanent solution for local control, "others think it’s an interim solution until Queen Creek and Florence grow together," Brown said.
The community council is still a concept and, like any effort to establish local control in San Tan, it will require public input to become real.
"These are all ideas to put before the public so they can decide," Brown said.
County, city or something in-between
Public discussion on forming a new city southeast of Queen Creek has waned since two petition drives to incorporate failed. Now, some residents are looking at their options:
Form a community council: Council members — appointed or elected — would represent community opinions to county government but would not provide municipal services.
Incorporate: The area would become a new city, elect a City Council and provide services to residents who pay taxes.
Become part of an existing city: A nearby city, such as Queen Creek or Florence, along with residents of the area would have to agree to annexation.
No change: Residents would remain under Pinal County government with no collective representation from the community.