ConocoPhillips is shown on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, off of U.S. 64 Highway in Farmington. ConocoPhillips is among the 16 businesses included in the
ConocoPhillips is shown on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, off of U.S. 64 Highway in Farmington. ConocoPhillips is among the 16 businesses included in the proposed 230.76 annexation of land east of city limits along the highway. (Megan Farmer/The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON Farmington City Council during a Tuesday work session approved preliminary steps toward annexing more than 200 acres of land that would accommodate industrial development and boost the city's tax revenue.

"It's a work in progress," Community Development Director Mary Holton said, "and we just moved to another stage."

The 230.76 acres is east of the city, along U.S. Highway 64, where much of the development within the past 10 years has been industrial, according to city documents. Holton said there are 16 industries in the planned annexation, including ConocoPhillips, Bearcat Drilling, Weatherford UBS and Roberts Truck Center.

Within two or more decades city planners estimate the annexation would annually mean almost $30,000 in property taxes and $140,000 to $850,000 in gross receipt taxes, according to city documents. Holton said projecting the gross receipts earnings is difficult as the companies earnings are proprietary.

Large areas of the land are also undeveloped and currently being used for storage.

In her memo to the council, Holton wrote, "many of the businesses and residents located within the subject area utilize city services and should, therefore, support the city's tax base." The city has also said it needs more incorporated land for industrial development, and this annexation would provide that, she said.

The city's comprehensive plan supports the annexation.

A concern with annexations is extending services — police, fire, utilities — to the incorporated land, Holton said. Annexing almost 515 acres of land further east of the city, which the council discussed in its Tuesday meeting but did not act on, would require the city build another fire station, she said.

ConocoPhillips is shown on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, off of U.S. 64 Highway in Farmington.
ConocoPhillips is shown on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, off of U.S. 64 Highway in Farmington. (Megan Farmer/The Daily Times)

But there is no such concern with the annexation of the roughly 230 acres immediately east of the city, she said. "The feeling is that we could pretty much absorb it, and it's immediately adjacent to our city boundaries right now, to the north and to the west," she said.

That annexation is estimated to cost the city about $170,000 annually after 20 or more years for the cost of providing services and maintenance, but the larger annexation would cost the city each year about $1.5 million during the same time period, according to city documents.

The city is looking at a total of nearly 2,447 acres, mostly east of the city, for possible annexation in the future.

Property owners' responses have been numerous and generally positive regarding the current annexation proposal, Holton said. About 40 people attended a meeting in late May and they completed opinion surveys. Another 292 surveys were also sent to the remaining property owners.

Additional surveys were mailed in late October, 2013, to property owners who did not respond, and another open house was held in early December the same year.

Holton said about 40 percent of property owners within the proposed annexation approve the proposed annexation. The city needs more than half of the property owners in the area to approve the annexation, but she said she thinks the owners' approval is a matter of time.

"What makes you think that we'll be able to get the 51 percent that's needed?" Councilor Dan Darnell asked Holton at the Tuesday meeting.

Initially, Holton said, the property owners are resistant. But many, eventually, understand the benefits of incorporating, she said.

Councilor Gayla McCulloch agreed.

McCulloch, who's family owns land within and outside the city, said law enforcement response times tend to be longer in unincorporated areas of the county. Others services are slower, too, she said, for unincorporated land close to the city.

"They do come to realize that it is a god deal for them," she said.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.