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Deeply Rooted in Laveen’s Modern Rural Community

Photo shows Stephanie Hurd standing with Cesar Chavez Park in Laveen in the background.

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By Tom Brecke

South x South Mountain

(This article first published in May 2024 in the South X South Mountain online news. Subcribe to the local newsletter here.)

By Tom Brecke, South x South Mountain

If you want to understand the heart and soul of Laveen, look no further than Stephanie Hurd. As an active volunteer with the Laveen Community Council and Village Planning Committee, Hurd has her finger on the pulse of the growth transforming the rural enclave into a booming Phoenix suburb.

 Hurd’s journey to Laveen brought her from the Midwest to the Valley in the 1990s when she and her husband Chad, now the Aviation Director at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, took jobs with America West Airlines. After stints in New York and Los Angeles, the couple returned to Phoenix in 2003, initially settling in South Phoenix to be near the airport before relocating to Laveen in 2008.

“We had some friends who lived out here, and they asked me to volunteer for certain things like the Laveen Community Council,” Hurd recalled. “I just got involved with it because I like having a community that gets involved.”

 That was an understatement. In her 15 years residing in Laveen, Hurd has become deeply embedded in preserving the area’s unique modern rural character while pragmatically addressing its burgeoning growth. As a Community Council volunteer, she helps organize major events like the Laveen Pit BBQ, Turkey Trot, egg hunt, and golf scramble that raise funds distributed back into the community via local youth groups and charitable causes.

 On the Laveen Village Planning Committee, an advisory group appointed by the Phoenix City Council, Hurd helps evaluate zoning cases and new development proposals through the lens of residents’ interests.

 “We’re a recommendation body – we don’t tell a developer that they can or can’t do something, but we make suggestions on things like design, landscaping, and green building,” she explained.

 It’s a delicate balancing act as an influx of apartments, a hospital, and other developments such as a pending auto mall transforms Laveen’s once farmland into a more urban landscape. Hurd said she aims for more “modern rural” design aesthetics, incorporating more wood, metal, and earth tones into builds, as well as smart transitions placing taller buildings like hospitals away from existing low-rise neighborhoods.

Hurd also understands resident sentiment, many of whom moved to the area for the rural feel of the neighborhoods, since she prizes Laveen’s open space and farmland herself. But she’s made peace with the changes as an opportunity to shape her community’s future rather than wage a losing battle against inevitable development.

“I’ve met so many good friends here, I just can’t imagine leaving even though sometimes I think my life might be a lot easier if I wasn’t so involved,” she mused. “But I want to make a difference. I say it takes a Laveen Village because it does – and we’re making a difference.”

“We’re excited to see what the future holds because we have so much coming down the pipe.”

 For more information on the Laveen Community Council, visit www.laveen.org.

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