Planning & Zoning approves new industrial area 

Michael Sharpe P&Z
Michael Sharpe resigned his position as vice chair of the city's Planning & Zoning Commission Monday to devote more time to career opportunities. He served on the commission for seven years. {Jay Taylor]

The Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission approved land use and zoning changes at Monday’s meeting that will restore some of the commercial and industrial land recently converted to residential use. 

The commission voted 7-0 to approve a request by the City of Maricopa on behalf of Pinal Feeding Company, Pinal Energy, AZ Grains, and Electrical District #3 to amend the city’s general plan land use map to convert 154 acres at the southeast corner of N. White and Parker Road and W. Maricopa Casa-Grande Highway from Master Planned Community to Employment. 

In a subsequent move the commission then approved a zoning change for 300 acres that includes that 154-acre parcel from its existing Pinal County Zoning District uses of Industrial Zone, Single Family Residence, Transitional and Planned Area Development to General Industrial zoning. 

Commission vice chair Michael Sharpe said he thinks this could be the beginning of a push to create more commercial and industrial space where jobs can be created. 

“I think that is absolutely needed,” Sharpe said. “We have some sister cities that have industry, we’ve got Casa Grande, of course we have Phoenix and Chandler, and where we find ourselves is heavily residential. And because of that, if we don’t offer any employment opportunities to anyone, everyone is constantly commuting, and we continue to have the traffic issues that we’ve got.” 

Sharpe said he thinks the city should take “a deep, close look” at areas including the land paralleling the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway as industrial corridors. 

“Let’s face it, no one really wants to live along a railroad track,” he said. “So, we really need to look at those areas as prime industrial space. Putting industrial out in far-flung areas like east of Tortosa near Hickman Farms begs the question of whether that is really convenient for the citizens of Maricopa who would be working there.  

“The area between Maricopa and Casa Grande is primed for commercial and industrial development because that’s the area we have the most control over. You can work with Casa Grande, you can work with Pinal County, and you don’t have to so much with the reservation, you don’t have to deal with ADOT. It becomes an easier corridor to develop. And if you centralize it along those corridors, it just adds to the quality of life.” 

Commissioner Ted Yocum said it is important to get commercial zoning back into the city’s mix. 

“We’ve had a number of changes where we eliminated a commercial piece to adapt for a PAD, so I think it’s very important,” he said. “It was refreshing to see something of this magnitude would be coming. I hope this is the beginning of us building an industrial corridor along the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.” 

Rudy Lopez, the director of the City’s development services department, said interest is high. 

“I can’t speak officially on who might be coming, but we are getting a lot of interest in that general area,” Lopez said.