NEWMAN - A county land use agency will consider the city’s application to annex the first phase of the Northwest Newman project next Wednesday, Oct. 23.

The application will go before the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission, better known as LAFCO, in Modesto for a public hearing and consideration.

The overall Northwest Newman project, which has been years in the planning, encompasses approximately 360 acres of property north of the existing city limits to the west of Highway 33.

At buildout, the project will include a business park, professional offices, commercial areas and a mix of residential uses.

Initially, however, the city is asking to bring in 121 acres, mostly between Highway 33 and Fig Lane stretching northward to Stuhr Road. Most of that annexation area is earmarked for job-generating business park and commercial land uses, noted City Manager Michael Holland.

The city, which took over the planning about seven years ago after the privately-backed Northwest Newman concept had stalled, anticipates that the project will ultimately create about 2,000 jobs.

“Our goal is always to bring jobs and commercial opportunity to the community. That is what Phase I does,” Holland said in August.

The city’s role, he has previously explained, is to lay the groundwork in preparation for development interest - not to compel building to take place.

The market will ultimately determine how and when the area builds out, Holland said, and no property owners will be forced to develop.

The Northwest Newman master plan, he said, reflects the desire voiced by the community in the past to plan comprehensively rather than allowing piecemeal development.

“LAFCO has to look at our boundaries, our ability to provide services and whether it is a logical extension of the city,” Holland stated. “We have to demonstrate to LAFCO why we are doing it, why we believe it is the right decision and how we are going to provide services.”

Sara Lytle-Pinhey, executive director of Stanislaus LAFCO, said the commission will consider a number of factors when addressing the application.

Those considerations, she told Mattos Newspapers, will include the city’s ability to provide basic services such as water, sewer, police and fire protection, what steps the city is taking in regard to ag land preservation and the overall scope and size of the annexation.

“We will walk through an analysis and present a recommendation to the commission,” Lytle-Pinhey said.

Anybody with an interest in or who is affected by the proposed annexation can submit comments in writing prior to the meeting or address the commission during the public hearing next week, she noted.

If the commission grants the annexation request, she explained, that approval is subject to a protest hearing.

If fewer than 25 percent of registered voters in the annexation area protest, the annexation is confirmed.

If 25-50 percent of registered voters, or 25 percent or more landowners (who also own at least 25 percent of assessed land value), an election is called and registered voters decide if the annexation is approved or denied.

The LAFCO meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the basement meeting chambers at 1010 10th St., Modesto.