Brief background summary

A general introduction to the present issues

9/1/2021 2 min read

Gold Canyon is a quiet, dark-sky residential community nestled against the pristine foothills of the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix near the federally-protected Superstition Wilderness area. Its residents have chosen a serene desert lifestyle away from the busy challenges of city life and are advocates for the protection of the surrounding land.

In June of 2021, a select few residents received official notice that the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) plans to auction off to the highest bidder nearly 12,000 acres of State Trust Land at the base of the mountains between two existing residential communities north of US 60, Peralta Trails and Entrada del Oro. This land has historically been regarded as environmentally sensitive with a fragile desert ecosystem, cultural artifacts, threatened habitat and species, and precious little water.

Simultaneously, residents learned that ASLD submitted an application to Pinal County seeking to change the long-standing zoning classification for 8,600 acres of this land from "Residential" to "Employment" prior to sale (case # PZ-PA-006-21). “Employment,” as defined by Pinal County, includes industrial, manufacturing, distribution, and power plants.

Thereafter, it was discovered that in a parallel application, ASLD also seeks a change to the Pinal County Development Services Code to eliminate the legal requirement of a one-mile buffer zone between land slated for MP-CMP development with a major, high-intensity, commercial "Employment" use and existing single-family homes (case # PZ-C-004-21). The one-mile buffer zone requirement in the existing Code is present to protect the health, safety, and welfare of existing residents. If changed, major industrial employment centers, sporting, entertainment, and transportation facilities will be permitted to be built within 660 feet of any existing home in Pinal County.

Gold Canyon presently has a population of approximately 12,000 and is well known for its unique, secluded character and immense aesthetic value. It is a recreational destination spot for the enjoyment of its natural treasures.

In addition to the irreversible environmental and community-lifestyle destruction that would occur if the targeted parcel is reclassified and developed as proposed, Pinal County has yet to build the infrastructure to meet even existing needs. Expansive commercial development prior to construction of the necessary arterial roadways and utilities to responsibly support it will be devastating, if not deadly.

The Gold Canyon Home Owners Alliance was formed in order to organize the strong local opposition to the ASLD proposals. ASLD is the owner of millions of acres of open land in Pinal County suitable for the placement of a major industrial manufacturer. Reclassifying this parcel for "Employment" use and eliminating protections in the Code which safeguard all Pinal County residents is overreaching and must be stopped.

The effects of the ASLD proposals extend well beyond Gold Canyon. It is not necessary to live in Gold Canyon, Pinal County, or the State of Arizona to voice your support. Please join thousands of concerned citizens in opposition. The Pinal County Board of Supervisors will vote on the "buffer zone" issue on August 25, 2021, the Planning and Zoning Commission will hold the first public hearing on September 16, 2021, and the Pinal County Board of Supervisors will vote regarding zoning to Employment on October 1, 2021.


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