ANTIOCH -- With an eye toward making annexation as unobtrusive as possible for residents in an established rural area off Viera Avenue, city leaders this week approved a package of environmental and zoning documents for the area to its northeast.
Antioch and Contra Costa County officials are hashing out a complex plan to bring 678 acres within the city. The proposal is divided into three land swaths: 481 acres of industrial waterfront land that includes two natural gas-fired power plants, 94 acres of marina and storage uses, and 103 acres of isolated properties off Viera.
Though the industrial area is the part Antioch covets for its revenue potential, the county agency that manages orderly growth and boundaries says the Viera area, which drew international attention in 2009 because of the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case, must be included.
The City Council added several provisions Tuesday to minimize costs for residents, including directing staff to work with the county and NRG Energy to find a way to cover connection costs for city water and sewer lines. One of the main concerns for residents, many of whom are on limited income, is the high price tag of $18,000 to $20,000 per home.
"We should not put an undue burden or hardship on that portion of the community. They're not asking for (annexation)," Mayor Wade Harper said.
Antioch also agreed to waive annexation fees of $1,634 per acre and allow residents to continue using septic tanks and water wells, provided they meet county health standards.
The city is also looking to create zoning that fits the rural character of the area, which would allow existing narrow streets, livestock, vineyards and home-based businesses, while leaving private roads alone.
"At the end of the day, it should be little to no cost to the people that live in that area," Councilman Gary Agopian said. "We want to make sure people are done right. We should give residents the opportunity to improve their way of life, and it's their choice how they do that."
Victor Carniglia, a city-hired consultant, said Antioch is discussing having NRG put the $2 million it offered the city and county toward connection costs. The money is an incentive to complete annexation for NRG's new 760-megawatt facility.
The city and county would contribute $3 million over 10 years to add water, sewer and storm drains, with Antioch covering the rest with grants and loans, according to a draft infrastructure plan and tax-sharing agreement presented this week. The city estimates it would cost about $10.7 million, plus nearly $5 million in other engineering and contingency costs, to add the infrastructure.
Despite the council action, most residents in attendance Tuesday remained leery of the process, while reaffirming their anti-annexation stance.
Antioch initially proposed annexing just the industrial area off Wilbur in 2007. But the county's Local Agency Formation Commission countered by saying Viera must be included to avoid creating a "land island." Antioch resubmitted its application last June.
A large part of the residents' angst is that the county formation commission may waive their right to vote on the annexation.
Under state law, a formation commission can approve annexation without allowing those in "land islands" a protest vote, provided the island is smaller than 150 acres and substantially surrounded by a city or adjacent cities.
The formation commission's decision to handle the annexation in three pieces is not permitted, and the entire area should be considered together, said resident John Mitosinka, basing his argument on an opinion from the state attorney general's office. That would require that all affected residents have a chance to vote.
"They've drawn up the pieces in such a way that it circumvents our right to vote," he said.
Antioch estimates the area could yield a net of $800,000 to $900,000 in new tax revenue each year and provide other economic opportunities on the waterfront.
Antioch will consider final adoption of the items on Aug. 13. If approved, the plans would be considered by county supervisors before heading to the county's formation commission, likely by late fall.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.