ANTIOCH -- Frustration continues to mount for many who live in the rural area off Viera Avenue over ongoing annexation efforts.
Antioch and Contra Costa County officials are hashing out a complex package for 678 acres to the city's northeast that would bring NRG Energy's 760-megawatt power plant within the city, netting $1.2 million in new yearly tax revenue and providing other economic opportunities.
A package of documents detailing environmental studies, proposed zoning and infrastructure improvements and a tax-sharing agreement will be brought before the city's Planning Commission next month. If given the go-ahead, it will be considered by the City Council in June followed by the county Board of Supervisors, and then the county's Local Agency Formation Commission in the fall, said Victor Carniglia, a city-hired consultant.
Though annexation plans have been divided into three land swaths, focus has centered the past few months on the 103 acres of isolated properties.
"This amounts to nothing more than a land grab," resident Ken Wentworth said last week at a town-hall meeting at Bridgehead Cafe.
About 50 residents attended Wednesday's meeting, many voicing displeasure to city and county officials.
Antioch and the county propose to install about $8 to $10 million in water and sewer lines along existing streets, but not change the rural character of the roads, Carniglia said. Further, the city is creating zoning designations that "would be a good fit," said Mindy Gentry, a city planner.
However, concerns remain from residents in the area, which drew international attention in 2009 because of the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case.
A primary worry is it would cost about $18,000 to $20,000 to connect to city water and sewer lines and abandon existing septic tank connections. Residents with properly operating septic systems, however, will not have to hook up to city sewer service, Carniglia said.
The other part that has residents enraged is that the county agency that oversees boundary changes may waive the hearing process for them to vote on the annexation.
Under state law, a county's Local Agency Formation Commission can approve annexation without a vote of property owners or registered voters for unincorporated land surrounded by a city or "land islands." The islands must meet certain conditions, including being smaller than 150 acres and substantially surrounded by a city or adjacent cities.
"We should have that chance to vote. It's feels like they're trying to circumvent that," said Michele McQuaid, a 25-year resident on Bown Lane.
Mary Tarango, who's lived on Viera since 1968, says the "very sizable" amount for water hookups is too much, especially given her fixed income from Social Security.
"If they want us to be annexed in, they should pay for it," she said. Carniglia said one possibility being explored is NRG may put the $2 million GenOn offered the city and county as incentive to complete annexation toward covering the residents' costs.
Resident John Mitosinka retained legal counsel to dispute the issue, who sent a letter to the city arguing the county's approach is not permitted and entire area should be considered in one annexation, basing the argument on an opinion from the state Attorney General.
Antioch's first annexation proposal in 2007 was only for the 481 industrial acres off Wilbur Avenue, as 75 percent of Viera residents said in a survey they were against becoming part of the city. LAFCO countered by saying land islands cannot be created because it would be tough to provide county services. Antioch resubmitted an application that included the Viera area last June.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.