Annexation Basics

This section has been setup to provide information about the City’s annexation proposal progress and key steps in the annexation process. It also serves as a way to contact the City and let us know your thoughts on annexation. The following information is to help explain in general what annexation is, why and how it is accomplished and what the benefits are:

Objectives of Annexation

In general cities annex land to allow them for the long term planning necessary to accommodate growth and facilitate the planning and budgeting of infrastructure, such as roads and parks. Annexing developed land brings State revenue to Surprise and reduces some services that are provided by Maricopa County. The objectives of annexation are to:

  • Encourage efficient service areas for services provided by cities, counties and special districts
  • Guide urban development away from prime agricultural lands and open space resources; and
  • Promote orderly growth and discourage urban sprawl.

In some cases, the landowner, the developer who built your neighborhood or perhaps your neighbors asked to be annexed into the City of Surprise to receive city water and sewer service.

In other cases, you are being annexed because your property is located in the natural path of growth for Surprise. Bringing your property inside the City limits allows for simplified boundaries, better planning and development and makes it easier to provide services in an efficient affordable manner.

Annexation by Decade Map

Facts & Benefits

When you annex into the City of Surprise, you gain access to a number of valuable, high quality benefits. The following is a list of benefits and links to websites that can provide more information:

Fire Protection & Medical Response
The average response time for the City of Surprise Fire is 5 minutes. With well trained and certified firefighters, state of the art medical and firefighting equipment and excellent training programs, the City of Surprise Fire Department is one of the best in Arizona.

Police Protection
Surprise Police’s average response time for priority-1 calls is under 5 minutes. The Police department has highly trained officers who work to keep the neighborhoods safe and respond quickly to emergencies as they arise.

Refuse Collection
Each resident is provided with a 95-gallon trash receptacle for the City’s weekly collection service. A low monthly fee also covers other solid waste services such as curbside Brush and Bulky pickup, landfill operations, neighborhood cleanup, annual Christmas tree recycling and household hazardous waste events.

Street Maintenance
Upon annexation, the City of Surprise assumes responsibility for repair, sweeping and maintenance of all paved public streets. Street name and traffic regulation signs also will be maintained and/or installed where appropriate.

Neighborhood Services
The City of Surprise helps interested neighborhoods form neighborhood associations, supports neighborhood associations by mailing newsletters, keeping associations informed about important City issues, and assisting with code enforcement.

Participation in City Elections & Decisions
Joining the City of Surprise gives you a voice in decisions and issues that are governed by the City of Surprise, many of which impact the entire region.

Water Services
Water and wastewater service for your area will not change when you join the City of Surprise.

The Legal Requirements for Annexation

Arizona cities are statutorily authorized to engage in annexation proceedings in accordance with
ARS §9-471.

After determination is made that the proposed territory will serve the city's interests, staff will analyze the legal requirements governing the geographic characteristics of the territory. These legal requirements are interpreted by the court as follows:

  • Contiguity: Arizona law requires that the territory to be annexed shall adjoin the boundary of the annexing city for at least 300 feet. This provision does not apply if the territory considered for annexation is surrounded by the annexing city on at least three (3) sides.
  • Size and Shape: The size and shape of the parcel to be annexed must be a minimum of 200 feet in width at all points, exclusive of roadways and rights-of-way. The length of the parcel is measured from where the territory adjoins the annexing city and cannot be more than twice the width of the annexed territory. The width of the parcel may be measured at the greatest width for purposes determining compliance with length and width requirements (Attorney General Opinion 87-160). These length and width requirements do not apply if the territory considered for annexation is surrounded by the annexing city on at least three (3) sides.
  • Creating County Islands: A city may not annex territory if, as a result of the annexation, unincorporated territory is completely surrounded by the annexing city. That is, an annexation cannot result in the creation of a county island.

The Annexation Process

The annexation process for developed areas presently in the County, but in the Surprise planning area is a joint effort between residents and staff. Following are the steps which must be done in order to complete the annexation process.

Preliminary Annexation Process
The applicant must meet with Planning Division staff to discuss the property being requested for annexation and to provide relevant information to staff (i.e. assessor's parcel number, address, reason for annexation, etc.). During that meeting, boundaries of the potential annexation will be delineated and may include adjacent properties which "round-out" the annexation area to form a logical boundary expansion for the City.

Upon confirmation of the annexation area, a survey of property owners in the annexation area will be required. The applicant is responsible for canvassing the area to determine if the other property owners within the proposed annexation area are interested in annexing. Instructions for canvassing, a sample survey, and annexation letter are included as Attachment A.

Results of this survey are returned to Planning staff who will review it for final determination of the proposed boundaries. At least 75% of the property owners within the area to be canvassed must respond favorably to the survey by signing a questionnaire before the City will proceed with the annexation. If less than sufficient support is received, the annexation area may be adjusted to include only areas of strong support. After the boundaries are determined the applicant may submit a formal application for annexation.

Formal Annexation Process
After the preliminary annexation process, planning staff will do much of the processing. Staff will present the City Council with a petition to annex. If the petition is accepted, the City Council will conduct a public hearing to consider the impacts of the annexation. Thirty days after the petition is accepted, the applicant can start collecting annexation petitions from property owners located in the proposed annexation area.

A signed petition for annexation must be filed with the Development Services division within one year after the last day of the thirty (30) day waiting period. A new application must be submitted if the property owner desires to annex the property after this deadline. Staff will verify that the petition contains the signatures of one-half or more in value of the real and personal property and more than one-half of the persons owning real and personal property that would be subject to taxation by the City in the event of annexation, as shown by the last assessment of the property. If legal requirements are met an annexation ordinance will be prepared. The City Council will then vote on the annexation ordinance at a formal council meeting. The annexation is final 30 days after the adoption of the ordinance. 

For Annexation questions please contact Long Range Planning at 623.222.3101.