The Farmington City Council recently gave staff approval to study potential annexation areas and the city hosted an open house at McGee Park this week to meet with property owners who could be impacted.
Though no proposed annexation lines have been drawn, officials sent invitations for the open house to about 350 people who own property outside the city's southeastern border on the north and south sides of U.S. Highway 64, said Mary Holton, the city's community development director. She said that is the only unincorporated area where the city is currently trying to get feedback from property owners on whether or not they would be in favor of annexation.
The area stretches west and east from Madison Avenue in Farmington to County Road 550 and includes a ConocoPhillips building, Pesco, SunRay Park and Casino and more businesses. It also includes the Wildhorse Valley neighborhood on the south side of the highway, according to city documents.
The area's population is about 1,175 people, but that would change if annexation plans are modified, Duane Waken, an associate planner with the Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization, said in an email. The area where the city is seeking opinions on annexation doesn't include most of the Lee Acres area east of SunRay, where about 1,800 people live, according to county documents.
"No (proposed annexation boundaries) lines have been drawn," Holton said. "That's the important thing."
The last time Farmington annexed land was in 2011 when it expanded into land west of La Plata Highway. The annexation was done to bring the future site of Tibbetts Middle School into city limits.
If the city were to annex an area, it would receive city fire and police services as well as water, wastewater and sanitation services.
The annexed area would receive city street maintenance and be bound to city zoning and building inspection rules as opposed to the county's rules, which are less strict.
"There are pros and cons to it," Johnny Holcomb, a senior dispatcher for Baker Hughes Pump Service, said of a possible annexation.
Holcomb has lived in Wildhorse Valley for 20 years.
Annexation "would be really exciting for me, provided the city would provide sewer services," he said.
Holcomb said he would have to do more research on how his property tax and insurance rates would be affected by annexation before he could say if he was in favor of it or not. According to the city's website, property taxes within the city limits are slightly more than six percent higher than property taxes in unincorporated areas.
Some of Tommy Bolack's sprawling 12,000-acre B-Square Ranch south of Farmington city limits is included in the annexation study areas.
Bolack said he would likely be against annexation.
The biggest advantage of annexation for a large property owner would be that it would be easier to subdivide and sell property, Bolack said. But Bolack added that he has no interested in doing that.
And it's not clear how his large-scale fireworks show and the hundreds of animals on his property -- which include a caged bear named Felix, emus, peacocks, quail pheasant and turkeys -- would mesh with city codes.
"I like the freedoms of being in the county, that's attractive," he said. "I'm 100 percent satisfied being a county resident."
County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter lauded the city for including county residents in annexation discussions in the early stages by having public meetings. He said the only concern the county would have is if businesses along U.S. Highway 64 are annexed into the city limits, which would take away tax revenue, while nearby residents remain in the county where they will require county services.
"The city of Farmington has the right to annex," he said. "We want to know in the event they do annex that the citizens are going to get what they deserve in terms of services."
Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel