First phase of annexation process under way
Julie Ann Grimm The New Mexican
"Annexation is coming." Like it or not, that simple sentence from city Land Use Director Jack Hiatt sums up the future of more than 10,000 acres scheduled to become part of the city of Santa Fe over the next five years. The three-part annexation plan is the result of an agreement between the city and the county on establishing clear, identifiable city boundaries. Once the city completes the annexations, officials have agreed to leave boundaries stable until 2028. Newly annexed residents will notice changes, some that are obvious benefits and others that seem like detriments. For example, taxes will increase about $50 per every $100,000 in assessed value for homes and $82 per $100,000 in assessed value for commercial properties. On the other hand, city police, street maintenance and code enforcement services will be extended to cover those homes and businesses. Another big issue is water. Property owners facing annexation who have wells will choose whether to become city water customers or continue to draw water from their wells. And those who are on septic systems will have an option of switching to the city sewer system. The first step in the annexation process is the adoption of a future land use and zoning map by the city and a new joint city/county board, the Extraterritorial Land Use Authority. After the zoning map is approved, the city will file a petition for annexation of each area. The first phase affects about 500 households north of Cerrillos Road and south of the Agua Fría Traditional Historic Community; west and south of Nava Adé; east of Richards Avenue and north of Interstate 25; and small "doughnut holes" surrounded by city land on the southeast corner of the present boundaries. The second phase includes an area that is largely urban in nature. The city expects to file a petition by 2012 to annex land north of Tierra Contenta on either side of Airport Road up to N.M. 599, which is home to an estimated 14,000 people or more. Lastly, the city would file a petition by 2013 on a large swath to the east, between the eastern city limits and the Santa Fe National Forest, as well as an 1,800-acre parcel on the west side between Agua Fría village and N.M. 599. The city is required to notify each landowner by mail as the phase that includes his or her land is up for annexation. The cost to the city is unknown. Although it will receive new revenue from property taxes and impact fees for new development, early estimates suggest that about $2.5 million would be needed for additional police officers and firefighters and other equipment or personnel. A new cost analysis is under way. The boundaries of the area have changed somewhat since the city and county agreed to a lawsuit settlement that laid out the plans. Notably, several properties have been added to the Agua Fría Traditional Historic Village to preserve its rural character. Judith Turley and other residents of Chicoma Vista off West Alameda worked last year to have their street added to the village, thereby avoiding annexation. "None of us wanted to be annexed," said Turley. "In our neighborhood meetings, what came up was more new taxes and more restrictions or the possibility of them making us be on the city water system. We had no information, so it was all speculation and it was fairly negative." Hiatt said the city wants to address concerns among those in the areas slated to become part of the city to avoid such guesswork. "The city wants to be a resource to these people who are going to be annexed and we want to honor the development applications ... and the uses that are already existing," he said. A private consultant has worked with the Land Use Department to create a list of more than 80 "frequently asked questions" about annexation and what it means for residents. City attorney Frank Katz recommends residents attend one of the upcoming public hearings on the zoning map. "There are some quirks and there are probably some things that are not exactly right, so we welcome people to come to the Planning Commission and tell us about it," he said. Contact Julie Ann Grimm at 986-3017 or email@example.com.
GET INVOLVED Public hearings on the zoning and subdivision regulations are planned for 6 p.m. May 14 and May 28 at the County Commission Chambers, 102 Grant Ave. After the map is approved, meetings on the process for the first annexation phase are tentatively planned for late June. The city has hired JenkinsGavin Design and Development to facilitate the meetings, but also plans to hold formal public hearings before two joint city/county boards and two city boards. A detailed map of the presumptive city limits is available at www.santafenm.gov; click on "Annexation" on the left side.