Last night, April 19th, the Town of Queen Creek held public hearings regarding two annexations of San Tan Valley property. The first hearing was for the Amerco annexation, located on the inside of the 'j-curve', just before Hunt Hwy becomes Ellsworth at Empire. The second hearing was for the Banner Ironwood annexation.
I attended the hearing and requested to speak so that my opposition to any annexations of San Tan Valley would be on the record. While the public hearing only allows for a three minute comment, and I had so much more to share, had I had more time, below are the comments I did share for the record.
"Good evening Mr Mayor, Council members, my name is Tisha Castillo and I am a resident of San Tan Valley. I am here today to voice my opposition to any annexations you are preparing for in San Tan Valley.
If I were standing in front of any of the property owners I would urge them to wait. I would ask them what they think they are gaining by annexing into Queen Creek that they couldn't have by staying in San Tan Valley & if I were speaking to Banner Health, I would ask them what they are being promised that would be worth the negative publicity of leaving the only community it has been a part of since its ground breaking in 2008.
But I'm not speaking to any of them, I'm here speaking to each of you, several of whom I consider friends. With my head filled with so many thoughts that my 3 min time limit will not let me share, I am going to focus on two points - 2 points that many of us have been told "explain" why these annexations should just happen.
#1: The property owner is asking for this happen. While that may be true and legally is required to be to the case, the property owners have not come to you out of the blue. You have been courting & lobbying them, or at least Banner for several years. You have had conversations, meetings, made promises, all in an attempt to get the property owners to choose you. You have something to do with these decisions, it isn't one sided.
#2: It's in your planning area. This is where I struggle. The discussions for your current planning area began around 2006, several years before San Tan Valley even existed. You drew lines on a map and in 2008, those lines were approved by the residents within your existing Town boundaries. None of the residents in or surrounding the areas you were "claiming" as a future plan, had a say in the matter, or the chance to vote yes or no. You just claimed it. That said, drawing lines on a map doesn't entitle you to anything. I would have thought and hoped honestly, that over the last ten years of you NOT acting on your planning area, that you would have acknowledged the community growing next door. You see communities aren't created by a local government or created by drawing lines on a map. How do I know? Because San Tan Valley has neither, but we are 100% a community, born June 23, 2009 in an area filled with land that wasn't currently someone else's. Without a local govt or defined boundaries, we started building a community and while YOUR planning area was included in OUR community, you didn't seem to object when Banner opened its doors in San Tan Valley, or when a fire station was built across the street from Banner and a PCSO substation next door, in order to reduce response times. You didn't object when the Ironwood/Gantzel corridor was built to allow for easier travel, nor have you objected as commercial has continued to build & be supported by our community, within your planning area. So what is it? We can build it in your planning area, but we can't keep it? The fact that you even have a planning area, is only because you fought Mesa's encroachment in the 80s, to become your own municipality and you are required to have one, and yet today you are doing the same thing to us, that you fought to stop Mesa from doing to you.
San Tan Valley residents have done more with less and against all odds, we have created a community. A community that you still think, isn't even worth being at the table for discussions, but one that has a population you continue to use to develop your economic base in your town.
The Town of Queen Creek has been annexing across county lines for years never reaching out to include our elected officials, which we do have, in any planning discussions & yet you'll reach out to the city of AJ to create an IGA for land preparing for the 24, while again ignoring the land and community sitting between the both of you. As you continue to increase your town boundaries into our community to increase your revenue, the perception is that San Tan Valley is simply your picking area. This must stop. We are a community, that will forever be your neighbor, and after fighting for years to finally have a say in creating our own future, your actions are not well received. It's time for you to stop hiding behind a 10 year old planning area and acknowledge the 100+K residents living next to you.
San Tan Valley deserves a place at the table & whether you want us there or not, we are here, we aren't leaving and we will be heard.
Thank you for your time."
If you'd like to sign the petition to let Banner know that you want to Banner to Stay in San Tan Valley, click here.