Fountain Hills residents will need to buy a new map. The missing northeast corner of the nearly squareshaped town was added Thursday when the Fountain Hills Town Council unanimously approved its annexation.
“We have ventured into the last tract of land that will define Fountain Hills,” Town Councilman Mike Archambault said. “It will affect Fountain Hills for this millennium.”
Plans for the 1,311-acre parcel include a maximum of 1,750 homes along with a 42-acre park, a 30-acre resort, a 12-acre commercial lot and 700 acres of open space. Annexation could add up to 4,000 new residents to the town.
The Town Council passed all four measures related to the annexation, including changing the town’s general plan, approving the preannexation agreement and defining the zoning. The land will officially become part of the town in 30 days.
Thursday night’s vote was a culmination of a 15-year effort to incorporate the land into Fountain Hills. The town spent years trying to buy and preserve the land.
In January, town officials finally reached an agreement with the Arizona Land Department to incorporate and develop it according to existing town regulations.
“It’s the best compromise,” Councilwoman Ginny Dickey said. “It’s the best way that we could proceed.”
At the meeting, a number of residents spoke for and against the annexation plan. Most either voiced objections to the housing density or traffic concerns.
“You’re entitling a developer to build 1,750 homes. You’re going to have mass grading,” town resident Bruce Hansen said. “I think we should annex the land, but let’s not do it with this plan.”
The council agreed that while the plan doesn’t please everyone, it’s better than risking that the Land Department could add even more homes in an attempt to maximize profits.
“We all agree that this isn’t a perfect plan,” Councilman John Kavanagh said. “But I’m real scared about what the alternative would be if we decide to get cheeky with the state.”
The Land Department originally proposed 2,626 homes for the site.
Although the land was originally slated to be sold in June, it will now be auctioned off before the end of the year to accommodate interested developers, deputy land commissioner Richard Hubbard said.
Because the department has several other parcels in the Desert Ridge area of northeast Phoenix and in Peoria that will be sold in June, Hubbard said it would be best to wait.
“We figured out that the same parties may be bidding for all these properties,” Hubbard said. “We’re going to do everything that we can to have a competitive auction.”
Several developers have shown interest in the property, which will be auctioned for a minimum of $130 million, including MCO Properties, SunCor Development Co., Pulte Homes and Toll Brothers Homes.
“It’s an incredible piece of property in an area where there is no more property,” said Jim Adair, SunCor’s director of community development. “But we’re still up in the air as to how many units we think can go on the property.”
One possible concern for developers is sanitary service to the land. Fountain Hills Sanitary District representatives have said the district can only guarantee to provide service to an estimated 1,071 homes without expanding its wastewater treatment plant into an occupied condominium complex or an adjacent wash.
Last month, the district’s board members voted to pass a resolution stating they were unwilling to do either in order to service 1,750 homes.
Some of the council members said the decision will prevent that many homes from being built.
“Let’s just count on the Sanitary District to be accurate in their count,” Kavanagh said. “And then they’ll only be able to add about 1,100 homes anyway.”