FARMINGTON — Farmington City Council on Tuesday approved annexing 888 acres, even as residents spoke out that the move will diminish their land, increase their taxes and disturb wildlife.
"What good does this do me?" asked Linda Johnston Paymar, owner of about 40 acres in the proposed annexation zone.
The annexation of the San Juan County land southwest of Farmington would increase the city's land by 4 percent and incorporate portions of West Piñon Street, West Murray Drive and the Bisti Highway, according to city documents.
Councilors will vote again on the annexation once the legal department drafts the ordinance.
Paymar said her property already has access to city water and utilities, and she nodded her head when Mayor Tommy Roberts said some residents prefer living without the city's zoning laws. The county doesn't have zoning regulations.
Community Development Director Mary Holton said annexing includes many benefits.
"They get the benefit of professional fire services and much quicker responses from the city of Farmington police department," she said.
City Manager Rob Mayes added that in-city water rates will decrease for many residents who incorporate.
Two other residents at Tuesday's meeting said they feared annexation would extend the River Walk trail system and cut into their property.
Roberts said the city already has easements for the trail system, and extension could occur regardless of the annexation.
Robert McEwan, one of the men opposing the River Walk extension, said he will resist if the city tries to seize his land. The extended trail system would scare wildlife and invite criminals, he said, referencing a man who was stabbed nine times on Saturday while cycling along a river-front trail in Durango, Colo.
"If somebody's taking my quality of life away from me, I can't just sit back," he said.
The additional land will allow the city to collect gross receipt taxes from several major businesses and open more space for industrial development, which the city needs, Holton told council during an April 8 meeting. At that meeting, council members voted to have the city's Planning and Zoning Commission examine the annexation. The motion carried by a 3-to-1 vote, with Councilor Mary Fischer voting no. Fischer was also the only vote against annexation at Tuesday's meeting.
San Juan County commissioners in an April 15 meeting reviewed the city's plans. County residents who spoke then said they were concerned annexation would interfere with their property.
Short- and long-term projections indicate the city would break even in the annexation.
The city could earn in the first five years roughly an additional $110,000 to $730,000 in gross receipt taxes, according to city projections. And 20 years later, the city could generate about $580,000 to $1 million more in taxes.
Holton has said calculating projected gross receipt tax earnings is difficult, as company productivity is proprietary. That is why the projection range is so vast, she has said.
San Juan County Operations Officer Mike Stark has said calculating the county's tax loss in the annexation is difficult for the same reason. But, he has said, the loss will be significant.
The annexation will incorporate large businesses, such as FedEx, San Juan Regional Medical Center, Drake Well Servicing, Triple P Oilfield Services and US West Communications, according to city documents. The area also includes 200 acres of city-owned land, according to city documents.
City projections suggest Farmington will need to pay $650,000 the first year of the annexation and $552,182 each year after that.