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City Scene: City to seek input on annexation documents

By: Kerry Miller, Folsom City Manager
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I am periodically asked about the status of the city’s plan to annex our Sphere of Influence (SOI) south of Highway 50. While you may not have heard much about the SOI recently, you should know that behind-the-scenes work toward annexation is on going. City staff, private property owners and consultants have been actively engaged in refining the land-use and infrastructure plans over the past few years. Staff has also worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and consultants on the preparation of extensive environmental documents. The SOI’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is now nearing completion and we look forward to sharing that with you this summer. The city will host a public workshop to present the EIR and invite public comment. We will post workshop details on the city’s website and in the Telegraph in the very near future. Following a 45-day EIR review period, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and forward its recommendation on the EIR to the City Council. Then, the City Council will hold a public hearing to certify the documents, adopt the SOI Specific Plan and a General Plan Amendment, and pre-zone the property. At that point, we will submit an annexation application to the Local Agency Formation Commission, more commonly known as LAFCo. The SOI consists of approximately 3,500 acres bordered by Highway 50, Prairie City Road, White Rock Road and the El Dorado County line. In 2001, LAFCo designated this land as part of the city’s SOI. A few years later, the Sacramento Area Council of Government’s Blueprint Project identified our SOI as a likely area for future Sacramento County growth. Interested residents participated in a series of interactive visioning workshops in 2004 to provide input on the initial SOI land-use plan. Staff developed a conceptual plan based on recommendations received at those workshops, and the City Council adopted the plan in 2005. Two years later, the City Council reviewed a refined conceptual land-use plan during a public meeting. You may recall that 69 percent of Folsom voters approved a 2004 ballot initiative that set requirements for development of the SOI’s privately owned land. Measure W required that 30 percent of the property be maintained as natural open space and ensured that future residents of the annexed area pay the full cost for water, schools and roadways. Measure W also required that the city secure a new water source for the SOI at no cost to current Folsom residents. We supported the efforts of the property owners as they searched for a new water supply. They acquired the right to Sacramento River water under a 2007 contact with the Natomas Central Mutual Water Company. That contract ensures that future residents will have an adequate water supply and residents north of Highway 50 will not pay any portion of the costs for that water. We expect that development of the SOI will occur over the next quarter century. I encourage you to attend the upcoming environmental review workshops and to stay informed about the city’s expansion south of Highway 50. I welcome your comments. Kerry Miller is the city manager of Folsom. He can be reached at kmiller@folsom.ca.us.