The City of Maricopa was incorporated in 2003, and in its few years as a city, the majority of the available land has been tied up in residential subdivision entitlements. The entitlements were issued in accordance with Pinal County’s 1967 rural zoning code when the city was still unincorporated.

The rural code did not incentivize Pinal County to create a vibrant downtown core. The zoning approval pre-incorporation did not account for mixed-use development, jobs-housing balance, or social services – it was centered on approving residential uses.

Without a proper balance of zoning approval, the City of Maricopa faced many entitlement issues following its incorporation. The real estate boom only served to increase the severity of the issue.

At the height of the boom, Maricopa was issuing roughly 600 housing permits per month. When the recession hit, and the housing bust occurred, Maricopa felt it was a great opportunity to re-examine their growth patterns.

The first test of their new approach in how they grow as a community and use vacant subdivisions began when a Catholic church was looking for a new site. The city did not want to build out the sewer, water, and other necessary infrastructure and also preferred a non-rural location where the Church would not be on septic. Therefore, the Church was left with the option to purchase land from a private owner.

Maricopa served as an Ombudsman, connecting the church with the Glennwilde developer to arrange for the purchase of a parcel located in a vacant subdivision.

While construction of the project has not yet begun for this particular instance, this approach has worked for other projects in Maricopa. The city in partnership with developers has approved construction of another church, a civic center, a regional park, a multi-generational facility, and other properties.


Case Study Resources

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Resilient Communities and Watersheds


  • Challenges:
  • urbanform
  • Land Use:
  • mixeduse, singlefamily, commercial
  • State:
  • arizona
  • Scale:
  • site, community
  • Type:
  • rural, amenity, suburban