To grow, or not to grow? Although a few Goodyear City Council members seemed intrigued by the idea of expanding, the general mood seemed to be “nix on annex.”
“I think they were gunshy, after Mobile,” Brannon Hampton said, referring to the 2007 annexation that was not unanimously received by residents in what is now the southern part of Goodyear.
The driving force of the Mobile annexation was the once-planned Amaranth housing community, which never materialized.
Now, with proposed major freeway expansions looming, is Goodyear ready to try to jockey for a strategic position?
At a Nov. 4 work session, Goodyear Council put its toe in the annexation water - though several council members did not want to get in deep.
“The city of Goodyear will be growing to the south over the coming years,” stated an introduction on the work session’s agenda.
“There are also major public transportation improvements such as I-11 and Loop 303 proposed both in the city and just outside of the city limits. There are, potentially, opportunities for annexation of additional land into the city where this transportation route could be constructed in the future.”
Christopher Baker, the city’s director of Development, provided background on the annexation process, and asked if it was time for a philosophical change:
“Do we continue to wait and see or aggressively seek annexation?” Baker said. “It’s a question that’s quite important to Goodyear’s future.”
Baker said “going north is not an option” for annexation, as the city of Glendale “has a 10- foot strip that precludes us from annexing to the north.”
He pointed to two areas in the south part of Goodyear that would be more annex-friendly, in theory, at least.
One area is near the proposed Interstate 11.
“West of Estrella (by Newland) is the largest opportunity. This is unincorporated county and is eligible for annexation,” Baker said.
In addition to 17,000 acres of Rainbow Valley, Baker said there are “checkerboard” areas of unincorporated county land, also known as “county islands.”
Baker stressed that annexation is a complex, time-consuming process. In addition to showing essential services can be provided to an unincorporated area, at least 50% of the area would have to agree to be annexed.
In addition to Hampton, council members Bill Stipp, Joe Pizzillo, Sheri Lauritano, Wally Campbell and Laura Kaino attended the study session (Mayor Georgia Lord was absent, due to illness).
Baker said the pros for potential annex-ees are “better services,” while among the cons are usually “higher taxes.”
While a few councilors pondered the “checkerboard” approach, Pizzillo noted that the Mobile annexation experience concerned him.
“It can get very expensive,” he said. “I would rather wait.”
Campbell said she agreed with him. “I was at the 2003 meeting and I know how angry (Mobile residents) were and how vocal they were. Mobile taught us that: it’s a huge expense.”
Sipp pointed to the services that would need to be provided.
“Every time we annex, we have to show we can provide water,” he said. “Even if we pick up some of the ‘checkerboard,’ we’re going to have to provide water. Water is the driving force.
“We haven’t said we want to annex Rainbow Valley,” Sipp noted.
”We are not talking about a land grab and going into Rainbow Valley.”
Sipp said he does not think Goodyear needs to grow, externally. “We’re only 11 to 15% built out. We have a lot of land left to develop,” he said.
Though his colleagues appeared reluctant to explore the idea of annexation, Hampton later said that might be a faulty, short-term view.
“I’m not trying to be a land grabber, but I want to make it easier for future generations,” he said. “I want to think 30, 40, 50 years ahead.”