NEWMAN - The city has two options for holding the special election to determine the fate of the proposed Northwest Newman Phase I annexation, City Manager Michael Holland advised the City Council at its Jan. 28 meeting.

The city has spent several years and an estimated $300,000 laying the groundwork for the annexation, which passed muster with the Stanislaus County Local Agency Formation Commission, a land use authority better known as LAFCO.

But whether the 121 acres is annexed to the city will fall to a vote of registered voters who reside within the annexation area, after enough protests were filed to force a special election.

Twenty-three of the fifty-five registered voters in that area objected to the annexation during the protest period which followed LAFCO approval, forcing the election.

Holland told the council that the city has 45 days to call

the election.

The city can opt for an all-mail election which would be held in late August or can put the matter on the November ballot, he stated.

Holland indicated the city has also looked into the possibility of foregoing the election altogether and instead amending the proposed annexation area based on which property owners protested, but expressed doubts to the council about the feasibility of doing so.

“I don’t even know if that option is available,” Holland told Mattos Newspapers Monday. “We may just have to play this hand out (with an election) and make informed decisions based on the result.”

Holland said he will return to the council with more information this month.

“We will come back to you and talk a little about the pros and cons of each (option), and get some costs together,” he stated. “In the next two meetings, we will make some decisions on how we are going to proceed with the Northwest Newman project.”

The annexation represents the first phase of the city’s planned Northwest Newman project, which encompasses about 360 acres designated for a mix of residential, business park and commercial uses.

The initial annexation extends northward to Stuhr Road on the west side of Highway 33, extending westward to a point just past Fig Lane.

The initial 121 acres is earmarked primarily for job-generating business park and commercial uses.

City officials have said that their goal is simply to lay the groundwork for future development and then let market demand determine what develops and when. No property owners would be compelled to develop their land, Holland has emphasized.