New River Area Plan will go to Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for final vote

Plan name could be changed to Daisy Mountain Area Plan

By TARA ALATORRE

PHOENIX – The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will consider adopting the final draft of the New River Area Plan Update, which could include a name change, at its meeting on the morning of November 20, in downtown Phoenix.

The Maricopa County Planning and Zoning Commission officially recommended the approval of the updated New River Area Plan on October 24, along with a proposal to rename it to the Daisy Mountain Area Plan. The board will have to approve the name change if it votes to adopt the plan.

“There are several different communities there, including Anthem, and they think of’New River’as the New River part of that planning area and the community, more than they think of the actual river,” said Maricopa County Planning Director Jen Pokorski, about the recommendation for the name change.

The area plan is a policy document that provides guidelines for future land uses to 121-square-miles of unincorporated county land encompassing New River, Anthem, Desert Hills and other areas of greater North Phoenix. If approved by the board the updated plan with replace the 1999 New River Area Plan.

The New River Area is outlined in blue. This is where the New River Area Plan Update will be implemented once it is finalized. For more information visit https://www.maricopa.gov/4768/New-River-Area-Plan-Update

“This is plan is strictly something we are required to do through state statutes, and we want to represent what this community wants to be for a vision of their future,” Pokorski said.  “We recognized there are really four unique areas up there: Upper New River, New River, Desert Hills and Anthem.”

She added during an interview with The Foothills Focus last week: “Daisy Mountain is something that is important to the community, there are a lot of informal trails on Daisy Mountain, it is a recognizable peak, so that is was why we made that recommendation [name change].”

Some of the most significant changes to the updated plan was removing a “town center,” which had allowed for some commercial zoning. Under the new plan that area will become rural, low-density zoning.

New River Road was also designated as a scenic corridor, and descriptions of the unique four communities in the area were added to the plan. With the addition of the New River Scenic Corridor, the updated plan will have a total of three scenic corridors, including the Carefree Highway and Black Canyon Freeway corridors.

The county has a strategic goal to update all the area plans over the next five years, and the New River Plan was one of the first to be amended. However, annexations occurring across the Valley are causing the county’s area plans to shrink, according to Pokorski.

According to county planners at a public meeting this June, the New River planning area has been reduced by about 25 percent due to land annexation. Shrinking the 166-square-mile area to 121-square miles.

“We’ve heard a lot of concerns about too much growth too fast,” Pokorski said at a public meeting in Anthem on June 25, 2019.

The future land uses for the New River Area Plan Update, if approved by the Maricopa Board of Supervisors at its meeting on November 20.
(Images courtesy of Maricopa County)

Surveys used by planners at public meetings over the last year revealed the biggest concerns for residents were rapid population growth, water scarcity and unpaved roads that cause dust and access issues.

The Guiding Principles identified by county planners that were used to update plan are: preserve and respect the rural lifestyle; support low-density, large-lot residential; balance responsible land use decisions with private property rights; preserve and enhance natural features and open space; and protect scenic corridors.

If the Maricopa Board of Supervisors votes to adopt the plan, it will become effective immediately. Residents can submit comments up until the final vote occurs on November 20, and are welcome to attend the board’s meeting.

“It’s been great working with the community up there, I think they remained engaged throughout the process,” she said. “You can see that they really care about the community.”

Residents can read the final draft of the plan, and submit comments regarding the plan and its potential name change by visiting: https://www.maricopa.gov/4768/New-River-Area-Plan-Update, or by emailing: NRareaPlan@maricopa.gov or calling 602-506-2364.