Clearwater Hills eyes Town of Paradise Valley annexation

A view of the Clearwater Hills community that abuts the Town of Paradise Valley. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

A view of the Clearwater Hills community that abuts the Town of Paradise Valley. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

The Clearwater Hills Improvement Association — a community nestled in central Phoenix on unincorporated land — has set the ball in motion to explore the possibility of becoming a part of the Town of Paradise Valley.

The Clearwater Hills community is a collection of 217 homes of which 14 lots are already apart of Paradise Valley municipal boundaries making the total annexation number of homes at 203, according to Renee Gerstman, president of the Clearwater Hills Improvement Association.

In addition, the collection of homes outside the municipality of Paradise Valley has created a fire district whereas the town, through its intergovernmental agreement with the city of Phoenix, provides fire services.

According to Paradise Valley Town Manager Kevin Burke, Paradise Valley Town Council is expected Thursday, March 24 at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, to hold a preliminary work session discussion on the topic of annexing Clearwater Hills into the town.

At the Oct. 22, 2015 Clearwater Hills Improvement Association meeting the board of directors authorized a budget of $25,000 to cover attorney fees and costs to present the matter of possible annexation to the Town of Paradise Valley, a Feb. 22 letter sent to town leaders states.

Last month the topic annexation was raised and discussed at the association’s annual meeting but no vote was rendered on the matter, according to Ms. Gerstman.

“There are many discussion points to this,” Ms. Gerstman said in a Feb. 25 phone interview of topics ranging from police and fire protection to elected representation in local government. “Being able to vote for the town leaders that make decision that effect you — there are some representation issues.”

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins says the town is receptive to hearing the case for the annexation of Clearwater Hills.

“Annexing Clearwater Hills into Paradise Valley is not a new idea and has been discussed and debated by previous town councils and by Clearwater residents many times before,” he said in a Feb. 26 written response to e-mailed questions.

“With a fresh set of eyes and an openness to doing what is right for the community, I look forward to this council taking up the question again and seeing where it goes. I think many residents will be surprised to hear that Clearwater Hills is not within the Town of Paradise Valley.”

But the act of annexation is a complex matter with many variables, Mayor Collins points out.

“Residents should know that in order for any annexation deal to advance, certain conditions are likely to be required,” he pointed out. “Clearwater Hills residents don’t want to lose their unique and historic hillside development rights and Paradise Valley does not want to take on any additional financial liability.”

The issue of annexation may come down to zoning rights, Mayor Collins opines.

“So if we can provide them with their own zoning district to retain the property rights already vested, and if they can retain responsibility for the maintenance of their roads and infrastructure, then I think there is a basis for a deal,” he explained.

Zoning questions aside, Mayor Collins says Clearwater Hills is a natural fit for the Town of Paradise Valley.

“I have always felt that there is a deal to be made that can preserve Clearwater Hills hillside development rights and improve their access to quality public safety services while bringing their 200 or so 1-acre residential properties into the Town of Paradise Valley,” he said. “Their low density residential character is a perfect fit for Paradise Valley and would be a welcome offset to the recently approved higher density properties surrounding our new resort properties.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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