CITIZENS DEBATE OV ANNEXATION - The Explorer: Import

CITIZENS DEBATE OV ANNEXATION

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Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:46 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Residents in the La Canada/Magee Neighbor-hood have more choices to make in terms of their area's future than just deciding whether to be annexed by Oro Valley, the group's president told a standing room-only crowd of about 85 at the Lutheran Church of the Ascension, 1220 W. Magee Road, last week.

One alternative would be to unite to keep the Casas Adobes area together and wait to see who, between the city of Tucson and Oro Valley, is willing to come up with the best package of incentives, said Stephen Sisson, the neighborhood association president.

Another would be to parcel the Casas Adobes area into three subsections to be annexed separately so that no residential areas would be left as remote county peninsulas or islands that would have a reduced voice, he suggested. In this case, natural community separations would allow for areas of annexation that would pay for themselves, as all would contain substantial commercial properties.

Subsections could be established that might include the area west of Shannon Road as appropriate for either Marana or Oro Valley, Sisson said. The area south of Orange Grove, from Oracle Road to Interstate 10 to the Rillito River, might be appropriate for Marana or Tucson; and the area west of Oracle, north of Orange Grove Road, east of Shannon and south of Oro Valley as appropriate for Marana or Oro Valley, he suggested.

Sisson's remarks were made during what was an atypical meeting addressing Oro Valley's annexation plans in that residents invited town officials to discuss those plans rather than the other way around.

Oro Valley is currently circulating petitions seeking support for its annexations of approximately 654 acres bounded by the existing town limits on the north, Northern Ave-nue on the west, a North First Avenue alignment on the east and Suffolk Hills Drive on the south.

Within this area, referred to as Area B in town documents, are 835 residential units, 92 commercial businesses and a population of 1,767, based on town estimates. Town officials estimate this area would produce revenues totaling $483,280 and result in expenses totaling $684,428, for a deficit of $210,148.

This deficit would be more than made up for, however, with the annexation of 788 acres known as Area A, bordered by Hardy Road and Calle Concordia on the north, Northern Avenue on the east, La Canada Drive on the west and Magee Road on the south.

Within the area are 1,770 housing units and a population of 3,475, but no commercial properties, according to town figures.

Town officials estimate this annexation would result in $1.5 million in revenues and $819,605 in expenses, or a net benefit of $645,189. This area represents about one-fourth of the area represented by the La Canada/Magee Neighborhood Association.

Residents at the meeting wanted to know if the town was offering any preannexation agreements to those living within Pima County's jurisdiction who sign on to become part of the town.

Oro Valley Manager Chuck Sweet said there were such agreements being offered to businesses, mainly in the Oracle-Magee area, but that none have ever been offered to members of any homeowners association or individual property owners

"How about one that says no future taxes?" another resident inquired. Sweet just smiled.

In response to another audience member's question "What will we get that's different?" Sweet pointed to improved roads and police service as examples. "I'm not pointing any fingers," Sweet said, but if residents have 30-year-old roads, they're bound to have deteriorated and as residents of Oro Valley people living with those roads would have a better chance of having them repaired under the town's annual maintenance program where roads are examined and prioritized to need. "What needs it worst, gets it first," he said.

Another man spoke of builders' reluctance to work in Oro Valley because of its strictness in enforcing building codes.

"We're always going to have people who say they don't like that, but all we're asking is that they comply with the code," Sweet said. "If I were a homeowner I'd want the increased protection. We just inspect at a higher level. I'm not blaming the county, but they don't have the time."

Other speakers, as in the past, accused town officials of using the annexations of their neighborhoods as merely a stepping stone to eventual annexation of the Foothills Mall and spoke of alleged agreements enabling Tucson, Marana and Oro Valley to divide sales tax revenues the mall produces in order to avoid annexation battles.

Sweet said there have been discussions along these lines, looking at the possibility of all three jurisdictions arriving at the mall at the same time, but no agreements have been reached.

"Time is running out on us," in terms of options and residents need to examine which jurisdiction best matches the characteristics of the La Canada/Magee area so those characteristics are preserved, one woman suggested. "Find out where your strongest options are and explore them. But I think Oro Valley represents our best option at this moment," she said. The woman was booed roundly.

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