Community Background

The City of Maricopa, located about 30 miles south of Phoenix, experienced tremendous growth over the past decade, transitioning from a small town of just over 1,000 people in 2000 to more than 40,000 by 2010. Maricopa incorporated as a city in 2003 and has struggled as a newly formed administration to keep pace with the rapid growth in the area. Development has reduced significantly since the economic downturn, which has given the city time to concentrate more efforts into much needed planning. The city reached out to APA regarding the Seven Ranches Area, an area included in the City Council's 2011-2013 Strategic Plan.

The private water provider for Seven Ranches cannot meet minimum fire flow requirements, which has prevented additional development. The area's poor infrastructure, blighted homes, and uncoordinated developments have presented significant obstacles for the overall economic expansion of the city. A 2009 survey conducted in Seven Ranches showed a strong voice for a planning study focusing on the area's infrastructure issues and the encouragement of commercial / mixed use developments.


June 15, 2012

Value in Collaboration: Finding a Future for Seven Ranches

Final Report (pdf)

February 22, 2012

Team members arrived and toured Maricopa, including the study area, Seven Ranches. They conducted a well-attended community meeting in the evening. Residents participated in a visual preference survey using an electronic polling system. Community members met informally with team members individually and in groups following the meeting to hear hopes, concerns, and other ideas.

December 2011

Team leader, Sue Schwartz, FAICP, and APA project manager Ryan Scherzinger, visited Maricopa on December 19 and 20. Maricopa planning staff gave them a tour of Maricopa and the Seven Ranches area. They met with numerous city staff members from various departments, including engineers, parks and recreation, the city manager, fire department, and economic development to determine the challenges and opportunities associated with the Seven Ranches area. The City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission held a special joint session during the visit, in which Maricopa's elected officials expressed their ideas and concerns about the Seven Ranches area.

Meet the Team

Sue Schwartz, FAICPSue Schwartz, FAICP, Team Leader

Sue Schwartz has been a professional planner for more than 25 years, most of that time working with neighborhoods to facilitate reinvestment in their communities. She is director of the department of planning & community development for the City of Greensboro, North Carolina. She was the project manager for award-winning Southside, an infill Traditional Neighborhood Development on the edge of Greensboro's downtown.

Schwartz was also instrumental in focusing attention on Greensboro's East Market Street, once the hub of the African American business district. Volunteer planners spent five days in with the community, resulting in the East Market Street Development Corporation, a $12.5 million streetscape and traffic management project, and $2.5 million in redevelopment funds to leverage private investment.

Schwartz has been active in the American Planning Association at both the state and national levels, serving as president of the North Carolina Chapter of APA, two terms on the AICP Commission, and a term as AICP President. During her tenure she launched the AICP Community Assistance Program.

Schwartz holds a BS in Geography and Urban Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Craig Farmer, FAICPCraig Farmer, FAICP

Craig Farmer is manager of urban planning for the consulting firm of Freese and Nichols, Inc. He has more than 30 years of public sector experience managing departments in the Texas cities of Lubbock, Carrollton, Grand Prairie, and McAllen.

Farmer has extensive economic development experience. He was involved in such projects as Lone Star Park, the Verizon Performing Arts Theatre in Grand Prairie, Starplex, and a $500 million redevelopment project next to Texas Tech University. His work won a national award for streamlining zoning and building regulations.

Cities have won Texas Planning awards for 10 projects that Farmer was in charge of, including comprehensive plans and two redevelopment plans using tax increment financing and public improvement districts.

Farmer serves on the advisory board of the Institute for Local Government Studies of the Center for American and International Law. He has served on the APA Board of Directors and was president of APA's Texas Chapter. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Texas Municipal League and was president of the City Planner's Association of Texas.

Farmer holds a Bachelor's of Business Administration from the University of Texas and a Master's of Urban and Regional Planning from Texas A&M University.

Lance Schulte, AICPLance Schulte, AICP

Lance Schulte is a senior community planner with HDR involved in land use and transportation solutions. He has managed the planning for programs and projects integrating pedestrian and transit design into the fabric of communities and neighborhoods. These have involved coordination of rail, bus, and shuttle transit with pedestrian, bike, and open space networks.

His projects have included a regulatory development plan creating a new 3 million-square-foot pedestrian-based town center, multiple TOD master plans, and a 2.2 million-square-foot central campus revitalization plan integrating 24/7 active land use and three transit modes.

Schulte has 18 years of experience in local government, transit, university, consulting, and the private sector. His perspective is that innovative solutions can come from effective collaboration and a focus on sustainable pedestrian-based solutions to both site and neighborhood design.

He has served APA as a member of the AICP Commission and elected positions on both state and local boards. He has also taught Planning at the University of California Extension program.

Schulte holds Master of Urban and Regional Planning and Master of Business Administration degrees.

Jeff Taebel, FAICPJeff Taebel, FAICP

Jeff Taebel is director of community and environmental planning for the Houston-Galveston Area Council where he oversees the community and economic development, disaster recovery, environmental planning, livable communities, socioeconomic modeling, and sustainable development programs

His major accomplishments include: forming a broad coalition of local governments and organizations that secured major funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to prepare a sustainable development plan for the 13-county Houston-Galveston region; instituting a pedestrian-bicyclist "special districts" program to promote planning and reinvestment in communities to make them more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly; partnering with the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter of the USGBC in an education program for school district administrators, board members, facility managers, and Parent-Teacher Organizations to promote "green school" design and management practices.

Taebel is a past president of APA's Texas Chapter and has also served on the Urban Land Institute Houston District Council Executive Committee and co-chaired its Sustainability Committee. His work has received local, state, and national awards.

Taebel holds a Master of Urban Planning degree from Texas A&M University and a BS in Life Sciences from the University of Nebraska.