Pictured: Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates addressing residents about updating the area plan at a community meeting on the evening of April 18. Photo courtesy of Staff/Tara Alatorre
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County looking to update Daisy Mountain Area Plan, asking for public feedback


Tara Alatorre
NEW RIVER – Maricopa County is in the early stages of updating the Daisy Mountain Area Plan that guides the unincorporated areas of New River, Desert Hills and Anthem’s land uses as well as its planning, growth and development needs.

The final draft of the area plan will provide long-term strategies and goals related to the future planning of the mostly rural area.

The newly drafted plan will replace the New River Area Plan, which was implemented in 1999. The first step in the drafting the new plan is identifying concerns from residents, so the county is conducting a public survey to gather data from stakeholders.

“The current plan is twenty years old, it's out of date,” said Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates, while addressing the crowd of about 100 people who attended a community meeting at Stepping Stones Academy.  “We’re going to get this plan together and have it reflect what you want.”

The survey is collecting data for nine elements the community views as an issue or concern which are: land use and development; transportation; natural environment; economic growth and development; areas suitable for future growth; parks and open spaces; water; energy; and cost development for new growth.

“This thing needs to be refreshed and we are gong to get it done,” he said. “We want as many people involved in this process as possible.”

Supervisor Gates held a community meeting on the evening of April 18, and discussed the draft process for the Daisy Mountain Area Plan, gathered feedback and answered questions from residents who attended.

The survey is open-ended for all nine identified elements and all comments submitted will be used to prepare policies and address issues while drafting the area plan, and the county is strongly urging residents to participate.

“This plan is important for setting future guidelines for an area that is concerned with new development while preserving the existing natural beauty, resources, and rural lifestyle,” said Ray Banker a Maricopa County planner working on the Daisy Mountain draft in an email.

Residents attending the meeting made it very clear they were weary of Phoenix annexing land for housing developments, impeding on their rural lifestyle and contributing to dwindling water supplies spurred on by a severe drought.

Many of the questions asked were concerning water; especially with EPCOR’s water station not yet completed, which was supposed to be providing drinking water to the area by April 30.

"A project like this, there are many pieces in it," said Gates at the meeting while explaining that there were delays on the EPCOR water station's construction, which are now resolved.

Gates says that he has been in talks with Phoenix City Council woman Thelda Williams as well as staff from the Arizona Department of Water Resources to see if there will be another extension for water haulers until the EPCOR water station is completed.  At the time this article was written there was still no announcement about extending the deadline past April 30.

Laura Ricci, who is currently part of a local group vetting the possibility of turning New River into its own governed municipality or town, asked Gates a question regarding incorporation.

“Is it true that incorporation and defining our borders is the only way to stop Phoenix from annexing land in our community?” Ricci asked Gates and county planners present at the meeting.

“The short answer is yes,” said the county planner.

Maricopa County expects to have a draft plan by spring of 2019, along with open houses for more opportunities for public feedback before a final draft will be published.

If you would like to take the survey about the Daisy Mountain Area Plan visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/newriverID.