By Roger Lanse
According to Assistant Town Manager James Marshall, Harris Gray, a local landowner, has formally requested the town annex a portion of his holdings in The Ridges off of Ridge Road, including Chukar, Partridge, Bobwhite and Fairway drives; a portion of Pheasant Drive; and properties east of Grand Mesa. Marshall also said that inquiries have also been made for annexation along Mountain View Road, 7th Street, and in Indian Hills.
Marshall introduced a resolution clarifying and expressing Town of Silver City policy of neither seeking nor desiring the annexation of developed property to the town.
“Department heads that provide critical services are here tonight to answer questions that I may not have, definitely the detail,” Marshall said to council. “So, I wanted to go through and list a few of the reasons that you might want to consider in passing this resolution.” The list included that the town has very specific development standards, the town has limited resources, the developed areas bordering the town do not meet the town standards, the areas that were annexed historically continue to have significant and unmet needs to bring the area and services up to town standards, and, there are many areas in town to which the town is still trying to bring necessary services.
“The topography of Silver City and surrounding areas create unique difficulties in development, and more importantly modifying areas that were not developed to town standards originally,” Marshall said. “The town has the responsibility to address the needs and promised services prior to considering additional areas that may be fiscally burdensome.”
Marshall went on to explain that the Town’s Land Use Code has a process for those applying to the town for annexation. Areas of concern when considering whether to annex a property include availability of water, trash and waste water disposal, water quality, roads, transportation, erosion, and steep slopes. Costs to the town must be considered both when annexing occurs and after, Marshall said. He continued that usually there is a very high cost to bring developed property in line with town standards.
In answer to a question from District 1 Councilor Cynthia Bettison, Marshall explained that annexing property that does not meet town standards would change the ISO rating for the town resulting in higher insurance premiums for the town’s residences and businesses.
Town Manager Alex Brown stated that because of lower water rates for town dwellers as opposed to county, the town would lose approximately $75,000 per year if The Ridges were annexed. Any expense related to the annexation would have to be covered by the town’s existing rate payers.
Silver City Police Chief Freddie Portillo stated that annexing is really going to stretch out the department’s abilities to cover all those new needs. He said that distance would be a problem with response times, which means that officer safety may be compromised. Currently three officers are deployed on the streets at any one time – with annexation additional officers would be needed. In answer to a question from Bettison, Portillo stated a problem for law enforcement would be the boundary line between town and county and if one agency would have to cross another agency’s jurisdiction to respond.
Silver City Fire Chief Milo Lambert told council that all the trash and brush in the ravines between streets in The Ridges creates a fire hazard and that along with that is the question of limited water availability in the area.
Peter Pena, Public Works Director for the town, said that bringing an area like The Ridges to meet town standards would be very costly. Because of the steep slopes, drainage and flood control would be real issues. “We’ve even had some issues off The Ridges in the past because, through the Environment Department, we had to do some work because at the bottom of The Ridges is our old landfill. What we’ve had to do is based on the amount of waterfall and what comes off of these and the destructiveness, we’ve also had to do some work ourselves along the edges of our landfill to protect it. So we’ve already incurred some costs.”
Although The Ridges seemed to be the focal point of the discussion, Marshall pointed out that the resolution in question was not aimed at any one area or application, but was an attempt to develop a policy for dealing with all such requests.
Mayor Ken Ladner stated,” I strongly recommend that we send a message (to community members) that we’re going to help you when we can, but we’re not going to dilute our resources in any annexation.”
District 2 Councilor Lynda Aiman-Smith said, ”This resolution in front of us really reaffirms policies that are embedded in the Land Use Code that reflected in various town plans, the comprehensive plan, and so, what this resolution is doing is saying this is how the town has decided to do business in order to protect its character, and in order to assure we are prudent with our funds, and that we do what is possible given that historical nature and the ongoing nature of the town. So, this is an affirmation. And, I just want to thank everyone for all of the work. It’s kind of brought to head by a case example, but, really, these town policies have been active for some time.”
Town Attorney Robert Scavron stated, “So, the presentation that was made to you tonight is the best expression of what the Land Use Code already says, what the Comprehensive Plan already says, what the practices of the town have always been, or have been for the last 25 years. If you’re going to, in any annexation case, whether it comes through the Municipal Boundary Commission, or through arbitration, or any other way, what you do tonight will be the voice of the council. Because you’re not going to be testifying in these cases. So, your voice now is to express ‘this is the policy that we all agree upon, that we’re not annexing any property, unless it meets the infrastructure needs, it does not dilute the services to the present residents, it’s economically affordable, it’s intelligent to do it, and is mutual benefit.’ And, unless you can make those findings plus the other findings that are required as criteria in the Land Use Code, that you’re going to hold any annexation to those standards. And that’s what you’re saying now. You’re enunciating as clear as you possibly can, and you have the entire staff of the town coming before you to give you that support.”
In the end, Marshall requested council approve the resolution, which they did.
Ladner made two proclamations. Carol Ann Fugagli, of the Southwest Non-Profit Coalition, accepted one proclamation declaring May 11, 2019 as “Give Grandly! Give Local Day!, a day to raise support for the many nonprofits in the area; and, Jamie Embick, Director of the Community Development Department, accepted the other proclamation declaring April 2019 as “Fair Housing Month,’ celebrating non-discrimination in the housing market.
District 3 Councilor Jose Ray Jr. reminded residents to watch out for bicyclists during the upcoming Tour of the Gila bicycle races. He also stated that Silver schools are planning to hire armed guards beginning in July.
Portillo also reminded motorists to exercise caution when emergency vehicles are near. Motorists are expected to pull to the right – from the passing lane to the slow lane or from the slow lane to the shoulder. Do not pull into the median. If pulling to the right is not possible because of traffic, stay in your lane, the emergency vehicle will wait until you can safely pull to the right, Portillo said.
Bettison said that a U.S. House of Representatives bill, HR 530, which is now moving through committee, should be supported by municipalities, as it would allow them more control over broadband broadcasting companies who wish to install their equipment in muni rights-of–way.
Ray said residents should contact the town manager’s officer if they want to use La Capilla so it can be opened.
Brown reported on the town’s capital outlay requests saying, “A $200,000 award was received for MainStreet for the MainStreet Plaza. Between the $200,000 allocation and around $65,000 awarded by Freeport McMoRan, MainStreet will be able to do Phase 2 of the MainStreet Plaza and have a little bit over to work on Phase 3. The second one was $300,000 for sidewalks. We currently have $125,000 from last year. We just completed design of about eight or nine blocks in the downtown around Market Street and Bullard. That project is about $406,000 so we should have all the money to complete that project. We got $265,000 for Scott Park, I am going to be working this year to get the remaining funds so that we can complete the concession stand and bathrooms. And then, we got $275,000 for Little Walnut. That money is going to be used for right-of-way acquisition so we can complete that and continue working on a Federal Lands Access grant, a joint application with the county so we can complete Little Walnut up to the Little Walnut Campground. If everything works out well, we should be able to spend all four of those allocations by the end of this next fiscal year.”
Council approved two public celebration permit applications for the 24th Annual Blues Fest at the 1200 block of Pope Street on May 24-26, with alcohol service May 24, from 5-10:30 p.m.; on May 25, with alcohol service from noon-9 p.m.; and on May 26, with alcohol service from noon-5 p.m.
Council approved a joint powers agreement for Consolidated Public Safety Answering Point, basically meaning who pays for the Grant County Regional Dispatch Authority. Since Gila Regional Medical Center is not agreeing to help support the authority, their 10 percent has been split among Silver City and Grant County – 38 percent each, and ‘everyone else’ five to 10 percent each.
Council approved the disposal of unneeded fixed assets of the library.