Local voters could be asked whether to incorporate New River, Desert Hills this November

Local voters could be asked whether to incorporate New River, Desert Hills this November

Pictured: Gavilan Peak in New River.

By TARA ALATORRE

NEW RIVER –The New River Desert Hills Incorporation Committee (NRDHIC) recently completed a legal land survey and filed a legal description and petition with the Maricopa County Elections Department in its attempt to place a measure on the ballot, asking residents to decide whether they want to make the rural community a self-governed city or remain as unincorporated county land.

In an effort to stave off the encroaching urban sprawl and gain local control over growth, NRDHIC has worked for the 18-months researching the feasibility of creating a city in the rural area, which consists of unincorporated land located on the northern fringes of Maricopa County along the Interstate 17 and Carefree Highway near the master-planned community of Anthem.

The grassroots group is now one step closer to making its goal a reality.

Pictured: The top-half of the preliminary boundaries map released by NRDHIC earlier this year. An official legal description and land survey of the area was filed with the Maricopa County Elections Department last week in an attempt to get an incorporation measure on the ballot this November. (Maps courtesy of NRDHIC)
Pictured: The bottom-half of the preliminary boundaries map released by NRDHIC earlier this year.

NRDHIC will have to collect petition signatures from 10 percent of the residents who are registered voters living within defined legal description before the incorporation measure can be placed on the ballot this November. Residents living in Anthem properties are excluded and therefore will not be eligible to sign the petition or vote on the incorporation measure.

The group says it has hired a lawyer, sent letters and the legal description of its borders to neighboring cities and has begun collecting signatures for the petition.

“It’s do or die time,” NRDHIC President Laurie Ricci said in an interview with The Foothills Focus.  “We’ll be posted up at multiple locations with volunteers to collect signatures and of course we are trying to collect more signatures than the mandatory 10 percent just to be sure.”

Although NRDHIC only has until May 1, to gather the 1,100 resident signatures for its petition to place incorporation on the ballot, its core members of about 20 people have a passion for their community, driving them to accomplish big goals against the all the odds.

However, even if NRDHIC does collect enough signatures in the next few weeks it does not guarantee that the incorporation measure will go to a citizen vote. 

Any neighboring municipality surrounding the potential town within six-miles must have the local government sign and pass a resolution giving official permission for the new city to be created, which includes, Phoenix, Peoria and Scottsdale.

Over the last year members of NRDHIC have had correspondence and meetings with all three municipalities about incorporating, including Anthem, as well discussions with county and state representatives.

But NRDHIC has not been able to get a meeting with Mayor Kate Gallego, who was recently elected and sworn into office this March after winning the runoff election, according to Ricci.

“Mayor Gallego is not taking meetings at the moment during her transition into office we’ve been told,” Ricci said. “I mean Phoenix could say no to us and this whole thing is dead in the water.”

So, it is hard for the group to gauge whether Phoenix under new leadership has any opposition to New River incorporating, but NRDHIC is confident that they will be able to communicate soon.

NRDHIC is still looking for donations and volunteers during their final push to put incorporation up for a vote this November, potentially creating the newest town in Maricopa County and Arizona.

“It is very exciting,” she said.  “Changes are about!”

To find out about upcoming meetings, volunteer opportunities or to donate visit NRHDIC.org or email NRDHIC@gmail.com.