Southeast of Tucson, Vail has been growing for decades.

KGUN spoke with several Vail residents who agree that more growth is inevitable, but they also want to preserve the communitys rural, small town feel and rich history.

Residents are divided over the best way to protect their way of life: Currently, as an unincorporated Pima County community, or as an incorporated town with its own government.

Incorporate Vail, Arizona (IVA) is a committee pushing to get that question on the ballot this November.

IVA is planning to submit a petition with proposed town boundaries to the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Sections of this petition have been included near the bottom of this article.

The committee is expecting the board to approve the petition, thus starting the process of collecting signatures.

If at least 10 percent of registered voters within the designated town boundary sign the petition, the question will be put on the ballot and decided in an election this November.

However, if two-thirds or more of the registered voters within the proposed incorporation boundaries sign, Vail can become incorporated without an election.

Voters denied the last effort to incorporate Vail into a town, back in 2013.

Previous coverage:

Should Vail be incorporated?

Front Page Fiasco in Vail: Incorporation article sparks controversy

Local control

Supporters say incorporating Vail will give its residents more control, as opposed to relying on Pima County leadership, funding and voters to make decisions for the Vail area.

I really want the citizens to have more autonomy, said Shannon Jelle, a Vail resident and a Vail Unified School District teacher.

I have two little girls. Theyre both under the age of four. When I think about what the future looks like for them, I want them to be in a community that has a bigger say. I want it to be my neighbors helping make decisions thats gonna shape this community, rather than people from outside of Vail.

We have one supervisor [Steve Christy] who has a very large district, that hes got a lot of people he is responsible for, said 17-year Vail resident Stuart Katz. We dont have as much control over what we would like. Id like to see that done locally with people who have been here. People who are new to the area as well who could bring fresh and new ideas.

I just would like the infrastructure and the roads especially to handle the traffic of the people moving to Vail, he added. And thats really where the focus needs to be when we start. And it hasnt been, waiting on the county government.

Not everyone agrees with that notion, including Kathleen Favor. She has lived in Vail for the last 23 years, after an earlier stint living in the area.

She and several other residents opposing incorporation are part of a group called Inform Vail, Arizona.

I think it takes the people, not a government, a layer of government to help us be in control, she said. We just have to get out and get the community to be more involved.

Being annexed by Tucson?

IVA president David Hook believes that at some point, the city of Tucson will look to annex areas of Vail, unless it becomes a town first.

I look at it like Vails a garden. And theres a flock of animals coming in to want to eat our garden, he said. And the only way to prevent them to come in and eat our garden is to put a fence around our garden, and say, This is our garden. This isnt your garden.

It may not happen in one year, or five years, or 10 years. But every indication that Ive seen from other cities is eventually they will want to be where we are.

Dissenters believe those fears are being overblown, saying the cost of providing services to annexed residential areas will dissuade Tucson from doing so.

State law says annexing an area requires more than half of property owners, representing more than half the assessed valuation of that area, to agree.

Is Vail ready to incorporate?

Some feel the incorporation process is being rushed.

IVA is trying to bite off the whole thing, all at once, said 39-year Vail resident Patti Woodbury.

IVA conducted a 182-page Feasibility Analysis that is posted on its website. It discusses the process of incorporating, as well as the revenues and costs involved. It includes emails, charts, maps, and other documents associated with the incorporation process.

Ralph Schoneman, who has spent 29 years in Vail, is critical that the Analysis does not go into enough detail in its budgeting.

Theres a gross level number for, road maintenance, for example. Well, what does that mean? He said. I mean we got potholes, we got grading thats gotta be done, etc.

The devils in the details If they want a viable city, then they need to do their homework and do the level of detail thats necessary.

Hook disputes that idea.

We did a feasibility study. The feasibility study shows its feasible, he told KGUN. To me, we are smart, wonderful, intelligent people. If all the other 91 cities and towns [in Arizona] can do it, I dont know why we cant.

Revenue and taxes

As an incorporated town, Vail would receive millions in shared tax revenues from the state.

It would also impose a local taxes to help pay for contracting services or establishing its own. IVAs Analysis, for example, expects that a newly-incorporated Vail will start contracting Pima County Sheriffs services for law enforcement before any attempts to establish its own police department.

The Analysis projects that a town of Vail would start by establishing its own sales tax, but not a property tax.

That does not ease the worries of several rural Vail residents, who believe theyll be paying higher costs without seeing any pay-off.

So were going to get services we already get right now, were gonna pay a premium for them, Woodbury said.

Theres also concern that a higher cost of living in an incorporated town will leave rural residents with tough decisions.

We live in an area thats poor. Its a very poor community, said 41-year Vail resident Diane Feldmayer. Incorporation would encourage developers to come in and to move us out. And where does the poor people go?

Kim Miller says his family homesteaded in the area in the 1800s, first in Happy Valley and later in what is now Vail.

Well be pushed out, he said. The fear of what theyre intending to do [with incorporation is to] push us out. So all these trailers will be out of here, and theyll move in 12 homes per acre, instead of one [per acre].

Supporters argue the opposite, that a town of Vail would keep development in check.

Anybody who is working and managing a city is looking at that, said 14-year Vail resident Joy Tucker. Working with developers, working with businesses that are trying to come in And it can be controlled. You can have growth in a very controlled, methodical manner.

And I look back over my years and the really good stuff takes time, said Mark Tate, who has also lived in Vail for 14 years. Takes work. Takes practice and sometimes some hard knocks where you gotta pick yourself back up and do. I just think its well worth the effort for everybody in Vail.

Others argue that work does not put Vail in a better place than it is now.

Weve seen Vail grow and prosper and expand into what it is today, all without it being incorporated, said Jodi Miller, Kims wife who has spent 24 years in Vail.

We dont see a need to change at this point.

Petition and proposed boundaries

Residents against the incorporation effort have proposed that IVA start by incorporating a smaller, more densely-populated area of Vail, before adding surrounding areas later.

Hook, however, says according to the Feasibility Analysis, the town needs to include an initial population of around at least 15,000 in order to be economically viable. The greater Vail area includes roughly 20,000 people.

State law requires any proposed town boundary must include at least 1,500 residents, or at least 500 residents within 10 miles of a National Park.

A copy of the petition planned to be sent to the Board of Supervisors, and obtained by KGUN, shows the proposed boundaries of what would be the town of Vail.

Opt out dispute

There is friction between community members, some part of the Inform Vail group, and the IVA committee.

In a section of the petition dated June 29, Hook summarizes different areas of the Vail community requesting to opt out of incorporation.

The section states that the planned community of Rocking K, as well as two HOA communitiesAcademy Village and Rincon Desert Estatesare being excluded from the proposed incorporation area, despite the Rincon Desert Estates community polling only six of the 27 residences in the neighborhood.

Additionally, the section adds:

Inform Vail submitted a request to exclude an area from incorporation While there are several residents in this area that have individually requested exclusion, none of the neighborhoods in this area have submitted a formal request for exclusion. Inform Vail is an informal community organization and does not have legal standing to represent this area or its neighborhoods. Furthermore, Inform Vail has not presented IVA with any resident surveys or other documentation that indicates the majority of residents in the area want to be excluded. As such, IVA is not required by law to exclude this area. The residents of these neighborhoods will have an opportunity to vote for or against incorporation during the election in November.

In an email to KGUN, a community member who is against incorporation disputes the statements made in the petition.

This community member claims their neighborhood sent an exclusion request in the same manner as Rincon Desert Estates, with the backing of more than half of the neighborhoods 285 properties.

Rincon Desert Estates submitted their request directly to Inform Vail AZ utilizing our form that was mailed out, the community member wrote. We forwarded it to IVA and the county. That form signed by one HOA official was sufficient but over 145 individual signed requests was not?

The property owners requesting exclusion signed opt-out letters or rosters documenting their desire contrary to what IVA stated in their letter to the Pima County Elections Director. All letters and rosters were sent to IVA along with Supervisor Steve Christy and his staff, they added.

Below are the referenced sections from the IVA petition to be sent to the Pima County Board of Supervisors on July 11.