When the topic of Incorporation comes to mind, I flash back to my childhood. I grew up in an unincorporated area of Maricopa County that went through what a small number of business people are attempting to do Vail, incorporation. Settled in 1870 by horseback soldiers, the town of Cave Creek was incorporated in 1986.
Growing up in a rural residential community was truly an amazing experience. We had animals, room to roam and one of the best school districts in the state. Dairy Queen was the only fast-food restaurant. Now the area is commercially driven, and the town’s main focus is generating revenue. Sadly, the population in the town of Cave Creek is shrinking, while more and more commercial businesses take their place and line the streets. The beautiful landscape and rural nature has been forever changed. Crime has increased and the surrounding area of where I grew up has become a shadow of its former self.
The most interesting twist to this story is that unlike Vail, the incorporators of Cave Creek respected and worked with their entire community on the town’s map. Most of the rural communities were simply cut out or were made county islands that are still in existence today. Development in these unincorporated areas is nowhere near the fast-paced development of the incorporated town.
Since incorporation, long-term residents of Cave Creek have had rules and regulations placed upon them, restricting their way of life. One notable example includes: “DESERT RURAL RESIDENTIAL.” Many of Cave Creek’s residential areas are in Desert Rural (DR) zones. Ranching and the possession of horses or other livestock is the right of any person who owns at least two contiguous acres in a DR Zone.” Anything less than 2 acres, say goodbye to any animals other than regular household pets. The great unknown is what regulations and restrictions a potential town or city of Vail might impose on its residents.
Recently, Cave Creek made the news surrounding the debate of Senate Bill 1063, an attempt to outlaw grocery taxes. Instead of instituting a local property tax, the Town of Cave Creek instituted a 3% grocery tax, the same tax rate as retail purchases. With lower retail taxes and no grocery tax, Cave Creek residents tend to do their shopping down the road in Phoenix. For Vail, this could become a reality as well, since Tucson (Rita Ranch) could potentially have lower tax rates.
Once a rural community, now Cave Creek is sadly a sprawling commercially driven town. Ten years ago, I left and moved to Southern Arizona. At the time, there were a handful of subdivisions, there wasn’t an AutoZone, Burger King, or Jiffy Lube, and Walmart was brand new. It was still holding on to some of its rural roots. Today, sadly it’s a shadow of its former self and no longer recognizable.
When asked why I don’t support Vail incorporating, “I have lived it, and the end results will not be what they are preaching. The end results are not pretty.”
If you would like Vail to remain Vail, I am urging you to write Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy and share your feelings about incorporation. For an example or fillable draft letter, visit https://informvailaz.com/letters.
By Inform Vail Az