Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dixon gets OK to annex Milk Farm property

July 11, 2006

Dixon gets OK to annex Milk Farm property

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Dixon will soon add the landmark Milk Farm commercial complex along Interstate 80 to its city limits.

The county Local Agency Formation Commission on Monday approved the 60-acre annexation. The agency should issue the certificate to make the Dixon addition official in about a month.

Now sitting abandoned, the old Milk Farm restaurant is known for its sign depicting a cow jumping over the moon. Milk Farm Associates plans to renovate the property with such things as a new restaurant, hotel and research park.

County Supervisor and LAFCO Commissioner Duane Kromm cast the only "no" vote. He expressed concern that an agricultural buffer that is part of the proposed project doesn't extend to the lower western end, leaving open the possibility Dixon could someday grow onto prime farmland there.

"Ninety percent of this I agree with," Kromm said. "But I am concerned about the western edge."

LAFCO Commissioner and Dixon Mayor Mary Ann Courville tried to reassure him. The Dixon general plan calls for no other development in that area, she said.

"But your general plan can be amended three times a year by three votes on the City Council," Kromm said.

LAFCO approved several other annexations on Monday. But the board imposed conditions reflecting its growing concern that annexing land into cities takes away property tax money from rural fire districts that are facing financial difficulties.

At the urging of Commissioner and Suisun City Mayor Jim Spering, all annexations approved Monday are subject to any policy LAFCO works out within a year on the fire district money problem. Or, as an alternative, the property owner and affected rural fire district can reach an agreement on their own.

A possible policy might be having property owners annexing into cities pay the fire districts for 10 years of lost property taxes, commission officials said.

All of this lent some uncertainty to the annexations approved at the meeting.

For example, the agency approved Vacaville annexing the 100-acre Mariani property near Crocker Drive and Vaca Valley Parkway. About 57 acres has the Mariani Packing Co. food processing operation, while the rest is vacant and could be developed.

The Vacaville Fire Protection District provides fire service to the property and receives $10,000 annually in property taxes. Once the annexation if official, the city fire department will get both the responsibility and the money.

With county law prohibiting most development in rural areas, rural districts such as Vacaville get few chances to replace lost property tax money, Vacaville Fire Protection District Chief Howard Wood said.

"Ten thousand dollars? Yes, that's a lot of money for the fire district," Wood told commissioners.

Bob Miller of Mariani expressed confusion over the commission's condition making the annexation subject to a yet-unknown commission policy on rural fire districts. This seems open-ended, he said.

"It's a surprise to you, there's no doubt about that," Kromm said.

If Mariani were to pay the Vacaville Fire Protection District for 10 years of lost property taxes, the amount would total $100,000.

Also Monday, the commission approved annexing 22.5 acres near Cordelia Road and Ledgwood Creek to Fairfield and 5.74 acres near Dittmer and Auto Plaza courts to Fairfield.

Sitting on LAFCO are public member John Saunderson, Spering, Kromm, county Supervisor Barbara Kondylis and Benicia Mayor Steve Messina. Alternates are county Supervisor Mike Reagan, Courville and public member Nancy Shopay.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

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