MARTINEZ -- The Contra Costa County agency that oversees local government boundary changes gave the go-ahead Wednesday to Antioch's plan to annex 678 acres to its northeast.
But don't redraw those maps just yet.
The Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission unanimously approved two main pieces of a complex proposal package by the city and county for the industrial waterfront land, despite objections from a handful of residents who live in the rural area off Viera Avenue that they were being deprived of a protest vote.
The land in question is divided into three swaths: 481 acres of industrial waterfront that include two natural gas-fired power plants; 103 acres of established rural properties off Viera Avenue; and 94 acres for marina and storage uses. The marina annexation will be considered at the commission's February meeting, officials said.
The annexation will not be a done deal until a protest hearing is held for the dozen property owners on the waterfront piece of land. The hearing won't take place for at least 30 days. Much of Wednesday's meeting focused on the residential area by Viera, as commissioners determined it met the state's "land islands" criteria and waived the right for owners of the roughly 110 properties to vote on the matter.
Under state law, a county formation commission can approve annexation without a vote of property owners or registered voters for unincorporated land smaller than 150 acres and substantially surrounded by a city or adjacent cities.
"We're not taking rights away; we're following the law," commissioner Dwight Meadows said.
Attorney Scott Jenny says Viera became a land island when it was "artificially chopped up," and the whole 678 acres should be considered together, which would allow for residents to have a say.
"It feels like this is being steamrolled through and we don't have a voice," resident Carey Mitosinka said.
Meadows, who has been the most vocal on the formation commission about the slow pace of this annexation, and others lauded the work to try to accommodate the residents.
"I was thoroughly impressed at the effort Antioch made to address every concern. You just don't see that happen," said commissioner Don Blubaugh, a longtime city manager. "I'm convinced this will help that community and really be a net gain."
Antioch and the county will contribute $3 million apiece over 10 years to add water, sewer and storm drains, with Antioch covering the rest with grants and loans. Antioch also says it will allow residents to continue using septic tanks and water wells, provided they meet county health standards.
The city also included a provision where it will help residents cover the $18,000 to $20,000 connection costs to city water and sewer lines. It is also looking into zoning that reflects the rural character of the area, including preserving narrow streets and private roads, livestock, vineyards and home-based businesses.
"Our two goals are we do not want this to cost those residents, and we want to preserve the character of that area," Mayor Wade Harper said.
He expressed his excitement about the decision, and the city's efforts finally coming to fruition.
Antioch first applied for annexation of the industrial piece of land in 2007 but was later directed by the formation commission to include the Viera area, which drew international attention in 2009 because of the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping.
Local leaders see the area as a golden opportunity to boost its economy, estimating it could yield nearly $1 million in net tax revenue each year and provide other economic opportunities on the waterfront. Both Antioch and the county plan to set aside $500,000 over the next five years to boost area economic development initiatives.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.