Employment, transportation, utilities problematic
By Dana Trumbull
On August 15, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors (BOS) met in Special Session to consider a number of items, including the adoption of a 157 page San Tan Valley (STV) Comprehensive Plan. Presented by Pinal County Planning Manager Steve Abraham, the plan covers 70 miles, and is the result of more than 18 months of study and public input, examining the unique needs and issues of San Tan Valley that are “the result of unprecedented growth and development for the last 25 years.”
According to www.pinalcountyaz.gov, the plan is an attempt to “establish public policy and guidance for future growth that will be more closely associated with the San Tan Valley community today, rather than the current county-wide Comprehensive Plan dated 2009.” If approved, Abraham stated that the document would become “its own chapter” in the county’s Comprehensive Plan. “We would look at this document first, and then look at the rest of the Comprehensive Plan to make sure the development guides meet those criteria… Further there’s an economic opportunity that does a fiscal analysis providing governmental services and infrastructure cost, sales tax and preliminary job numbers.”
The planning zone ranges from Germann Road on the north, to AZ Farms on the south; the CAP Canal on the east, then west to Ellsworth and up the Meridian Road alignment, following the county line.
“One interesting thing that I’ve discovered as part of the neighborhood outreach,” noted Abraham, “is that STV has kind of developed into South STV, which comprises the foothills, Johnson Ranch, San Tan Heights… and then there’s the north side of STV, which [includes] more developed areas such as Fulton and Ironwood Crossing. So it was maybe luck that there happened to be a big piece of open State Trust Land that could serve as an area to sort of merge those two types of sub-communities together.”
That middle ground, indicated on the map by a blue triangle, is slated as a suburban office/urban core mix. “Calling it a downtown might not be the right term for this; I think it would be more of an activity area that one could look at for the live/work/play environment and more intense development that you would typically find in a suburban setting.”
Problems pointed out by Supervisors include the lack of substantial employment centers. “I just anticipated something more to address stopping people from leaving our county and going to work in another county,” commented District 3 Supervisor Steve Miller. “We want them to stay here, work here; and if they’re working here, they’re not going to drive to go spend their dollars in another county.”
Other issues include the lack of adequate transportation corridors and reliable utilities, both of which are needed to attract the industrial and manufacturing industries that would provide livable wage employment.
Zoning will also be an issue, since most of the available land is already designated for housing or a part of the unzoned State Land Trust.
The plan will now go back to the Citizen Advisory Committee on September 6, followed by a Planning and Zoning commission review on September 20 and will return to the BOS agenda sometime in October.