Water utility expansion means more 'shovel ready' sites


April 10, 2014 - 2:40 pm
A tree sits on the east side of the city-owned, 52-acre Estrella Gin site. Kyle Daly photo

Without the right infrastructure, development can’t happen.

That’s why Maricopa officials are inviting landowners who have property not served by the city’s main water and wastewater provider to step forward. 

Global Water, the company that owns and operates the city’s water and wastewater utilities – Santa Cruz Water Company and Palo Verde Utilities Company – plans to submit an application to the Arizona Corporation Commission to bring undeveloped city land and other properties within its service area.

“This gets us closer to having more land within the city that’s shovel ready for development,” said Micah Miranda, director of the city’s Economic Development Department. 

The ACC oversees public service utilities in the state, and has final say on customer rates.

Global Water plans to submit to ACC what’s called an application for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CC&N) extension, which basically is a request to expand the utility’s existing area of service. 

The city is working with Global Water to include two municipal-owned sites within the application – the Estrella Gin Business Park on the west side of the city and around 60 acres within the Eagle Wing planned area development south of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks near White and Parker Road. 

The city also is seeking private landowners to be included within the application.

In accordance to a memorandum of understanding with the city, Global Water will cover the costs associated with the service area expansion – legal fees, regulatory fees and others. 

Ron Fleming, president and chief operating officer at Global, said since the utility already agreed to cover the costs for the city’s properties in the expansion process, it wouldn’t cost much more to bring other properties on board. 

“While we do need specific information for each property, they all can be lumped in the same application,” Fleming said. 

Fleming added it’s more efficient to have several properties on one application. 

One reason for landowners to jump on board now is the time it takes to receive approval from the ACC. It can take 12 to 18 months to receive approval, Fleming said. The time can depend on the complexity of the application and ACC’s workload.

“I’d say in this day and age with the workload that they have and everything going on, it will probably be around 12 months for the whole process to take place,” he said. 

For a business looking to set up shop in the city on land that’s not yet included in Global’s service area, that extra time isn’t ideal. 

“That’s a long time for a business to have to wait,” Miranda said. 

Miranda added that businesses want “turnkey opportunities.” 

“And this gets us closer to those turnkey opportunities,” he said. 

Fleming said earlier this week there are two or three private property owners who are interested in being part of the application. 

The city posted information about the application on its website Monday to draw the attention of landowners. The post specifies that only property not within existing water and wastewater utility’s service area are eligible. 

Some private property the city has expressed interest in targeting for the application includes 114 acres north and west of the Estrella Gin site and newly annexed property on the southeastern part of the city known as the Anderson Russell Corridor. 

The Estrella Gin Business Park site is 52 acres of mostly undeveloped land, including 40 acres planned for future commercial development. The site is north of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and west of the Acacia Crossings neighborhood. 

The city purchased the land from the Estrella Gin Co. in 2011. 

Fire Station No. 575 on Edison Road opened on the site in July. Regulations allow Global Water to serve the station because the parcel on which the fire station sits is contiguous to a nearby service area. This made the construction possible without having to go through the CC&N extension process, however, it is still required the property be brought into the service area with Global’s next application. 

The contiguous rule wouldn’t work for all development at the site because once Estrella Gin property is subdivided into other parcels – such as for commercial sites – there are likely to be portions that will no longer be contiguous to Global’s service area. 

Miranda said city officials are finalizing a development agreement with a preferred developer for the Estrella Gin site and hope to have the development agreement to the city council in May.

The city has plans to build a public works facility on the site. Estrella Gin also is the proposed relocation site of the current Amtrak station that sits just east of the property. 

The activity of bringing more property into Global Water’s service area does not affect customer rates, which are set by the ACC. 

Fleming pointed out one benefit of bringing more property online. 

“The more customers on the system, the more that the costs are spread out over a greater customer base,” he said. 

Landowners interested in being part of the application can call the city’s Economic Development Department at 520-316-6990.  




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