By Terri Jo Neff |
Residents living in unincorporated communities across Arizona have a streamlined process for seeking to become a city or town, now that Gov. Doug Ducey has signed House Bill 2455 into law.
Under HB2455, the process will require those seeking incorporation to provide public notice at least six months prior to formally publishing a Petition to Incorporate. The requirements for making that notice are also detailed in the new legislation which Ducey signed April 6.
Another important change related to HB2455 is the ability to include “large areas of uninhabited, rural or farm land” into the incorporation plan under certain circumstances. But the biggest change is that those directly impacted by an incorporation plan can still object and be removed from the boundaries, but it is harder for them to outright kill the effort.
The change is intended to allow affected local qualified electors to vote on the proposed incorporation without having their interests overshadowed by others.
HB2455 was introduced by Rep. Neal Carter who represents parts of Gila and Pinal counties. He lives in San Tan Valley, where residents have tried three times in the last 12 years to incorporate the area which is home to nearly 97,000 people in northern Pinal County.
“Each time, the effort has failed without ever going to a ballot because of objections from outside interests,” Carter said after his bill was signed into law. “I believe people who live within a community should have a chance for their voices to be heard on matters of local governance. Any decision of whether a community becomes a town or city should be made by its residents, not by out of area interests.”
Carter was appointed last fall by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to fill the remainder of Rep. Frank Pratt’s term following Pratt’s death. HB2455 was the first bill Carter introduced which the governor has signed into law.
HB2455 takes effect 90 days after the end of this legislative session.