Queen Creek to hold public hearings on proposed Banner Ironwood, Amerco site annexations April 19

This proposed site plan for the Amerco property on the southeast corner of Empire Boulevard and Ellsworth Road includes a new Earnhardt Auto Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep dealership and a U-Haul moving and storage center. The graphic and others were presented April 12 by Queen Creek Planning Administrator Brett Burningham to the Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission. (Special to the Independent/Town of Queen Creek)

*Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that the Queen Creek Town Council was expected to approve the proposed annexations of Banner Ironwood and the Amerco site. No action was scheduled to take place during the April 19 public hearings regarding the annexations. The Independent apologizes for any confusion this might have caused.


The Queen Creek Town Council on April 19 held public hearings regarding the proposed annexations of two San Tan Valley properties that, when annexed into the Queen Creek town limits, would expand the town’s service base and sales tax revenue.

The town is seeking to annex both Banner Health’s Banner Ironwood Medical Center, a three-parcel property on about 80 acres at 37000 N. Gantzel Road, and two parcels on about 40 acres at the southeast corner of Empire Boulevard and Ellsworth Road.

Both Pinal County properties are within the town’s planning area, as identified in the town’s voter-approved General Plan, according to a press release.

The planning area map can be viewed online at www.queencreek.org/town-hall/directory-of-documents/general-plan-and-map.

Banner Ironwood

Both annexations are on the agenda’s public hearings consent agenda (*see Editor’s note, above). In many cases, items on the consent agenda may be approved without discussion in a blanket vote by the council. This does not apply to proposed annexations, Town Manager John Kross said during an interview after the council meeting.

(Read related story)

However, prior to the council’s consideration of the agenda, the mayor will ask whether any member of the public wishes to remove an item for separate consideration. In addition, members of the council or staff may comment on any item without removing it from the consent agenda or remove any item for separate discussion and consideration.

(Independent Newspapers/Wendy Miller)

On April 11, the town announced the town council had approved a pre-annexation agreement with Banner Health to annex Banner Ironwood. The pre-annexation agreement begins the formal annexation process, according to the press release.

“Annexation into the town of Queen Creek will give Banner Ironwood access to additional town services such as fire, police and emergency medical services, which often intersect with the services we provide at the hospital,” Becky Armendariz, the public relations representative for the health care company, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Strengthening our partnership for closer coordination with these agencies is important to ensure the highest level of quality care.

“This move will also allow for further integration with Queen Creek Town Council leaders and give Banner Ironwood a voice at the table when discussing property activity approvals within the context of Queen Creek’s plans for developing and improving the areas closest to our medical center,” she said.

Despite annexation into Queen Creek, Banner Ironwood will remain committed to serving the health needs of its entire community, including residents in San Tan Valley, Florence and other surrounding areas, Ms. Armendariz said.

The town and Banner Health began discussion of annexation of the medical center into the town limits in 2008.

The requested area includes the hospital, medical offices and undeveloped land. Banner intends to expand both the hospital and medical facilities over the next 30 years, according to the release.

The town’s planning area, which extends beyond the municipality’s current borders, was last approved in 2008 and indicates areas that the town may annex in the future.

The Banner Ironwood property has been in the approved planning area since before it broke ground, according to the release.

“Banner Ironwood Medical Center will continue to serve the entire region, including Queen Creek, Florence and San Tan Valley. Incorporation into the town of Queen Creek will locate the medical center in an established municipality, which comes with the availability of critical services including fire and other emergency response services,” Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney said in the release.

“The area north of Combs Road from Rittenhouse to Gantzel has been in the town boundary since 2008,” Mayor Barney continued. “The town agreed to the annexation of Banner Ironwood Medical Center because it meets our criteria, which includes bringing high wage jobs into the town. The hospital directly supports about 400 jobs currently and will support 1,015 jobs at its build-out, which benefits our entire region.”

The formal annexation process includes finalizing technical details and public hearings. Information regarding any public hearings related to the annexation will be posted on the town’s website: www.queencreek.org.

The annexation would not change the county in which Banner Ironwood is located; it will remain in Pinal County, according to the release.

Amerco property

Amerco is the parent company for U-Haul, according to its website: https://www.amerco.com/. Amerco owns the 40-acre undeveloped property at the southeast corner of Empire and Ellsworth roads, just north of the San Tan Flat restaurant.

It is represented by Carolyn Oberholtzer of Phoenix-based Bergin, Frakes, Smalley & Oberholtzer PLLC.
Ms. Oberholtzer and her company are also working with Earnhardt Auto on development plans for a Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep dealership at that location, she said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“…Which is exciting for the Earnhardt family as they have made Queen Creek their home for the past 33 years. The town of Queen Creek is already the water and sewer provider in this area and for the property and as a result, annexation into the town also makes sense from that perspective,” Ms. Oberholtzer said. “We hope to be under construction by late summer.”

The town is working with the property owner on a pre-annexation agreement, Marnie Schubert, the town’s director of communications, marketing and recreation, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Annexing the property will have a “huge” financial effect on the town, said Chris Clark, president/CEO of the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce.

“The sales tax on the car dealership is amazing,” Mr. Clark said during a phone interview. “It’s going to be good.”

The town council meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road. Public hearings do not begin before 7 p.m.

The meeting agenda and council’s information packet can be viewed on the town’s website at www.queencreek.org. Click on the meeting listing on the town’s Calendar.

For more information, call the town at 480-358-3000.

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