The City of Nogales is moving ahead with plans to annex an unincorporated area north of city limits and is planning a public hearing on the proposal next month.
But some residents of the affected area who don’t like the plan aren’t waiting for the hearing – set for Dec. 4 – to show their opposition.
“I’m happy here,” said Evelia Robles, a resident of the Chula Vista neighborhood who has helped collect signatures from residents against the annexation. “I don’t want to be a part of the city.”
A map of the proposed annexation area shows that it will include the Chula Vista, Pete Kitchen, Firestone Gardens and Peña Blanca Highlands residential neighborhoods.
The area, an approximately 2.6-by-3-mile square covering areas around Interstate 19 north of the city, also includes the Pilot Travel Center on Ruby Road. But it stops short of the Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant and a nearby warehouse area, which had been included in some previous annexation plans.
In 2014, a proposal to annex a similar area lost momentum after residents voiced opposition at a public hearing.
City officials say that annexation will bring in new revenue by bringing about 1,500 new residents within city limits and allowing the city to collect sales tax at retail locations like the Pilot, while providing residents of the annexed areas with improved services.
Lupita Puebla, who lives in Chula Vista and collected the opposition signatures with Robles, showed the NI a list of more than 100 signatures that she had compiled in the Chula Vista, Pete Kitchen and Firestone Gardens neighborhoods.
She also brought the signature list to Wednesday’s meeting of the mayor and city council and offered to give them copies.
Robles said that she is worried that the city wouldn’t be able to deliver better services than Santa Cruz County, which is currently responsible for the area. She noted that some Nogales streets need maintenance and suggested that the city should take care of its own issues before it annexes more land.
But not all residents have made up their minds.
Luly Egurrola said the signature-collectors had talked to her at her Chula Vista home, but she hadn’t signed because she still had questions about the purpose and consequences of the plan.
Egurrola said that she would consider going to the upcoming hearing to find out more about the proposal.
After the public hearing, to be held at a time and place still to be announced, the mayor and council will be able to vote to approve an annexation petition.
If the petition is approved, the city will have approximately one year to gather signatures from residents in the proposed annexation area who support the move.
Acting City Manager John Kissinger said “there will be plenty of community outreach” related to the plan.
The city is also going to pay The Planning Center, a Tucson-based architecture and design firm, to deliver a report on the financial costs and benefits of annexation
The report will look into the increased revenues that the city would receive from state shared revenue funds if the annexation is approved, as well as the additional costs of providing fire, police and other services to the annexed area.
In 2014, The Planning Center completed a similar report and recommended that the city move forward with annexation, according to Kissinger.
For the annexation to be implemented, the city needs to get signatures from more than 50 percent of annexation area residents. It also needs to have signatures from property owners who represent more than 50 percent of the total assessed land value in the area.