SALIDA -- The Salida Municipal Advisory Council took a formal stand Tuesday against a proposal to annex the unincorporated community to Modesto.
The 4-0 vote came after vocal residents had opposed the idea at advisory council meetings in recent months.
Salida MAC Chairman Thomas Reeves made the motion Tuesday and intends to notify the city of the board's opinion. The advisory board has no authority but makes recommendations to county government.
"I wanted to make sure our council got in front of the issue," Reeves said. "I felt we had enough information to make the call."
Reeves previously had said he was keeping an open mind to annexation. Many speakers at Tuesday's meeting said the town of 13,700 residents should stay in Stanislaus County's jurisdiction.
Not attending the meeting was advisory council member Katherine Borges, an annexation opponent who has started a campaign for cityhood.
A couple of residents who spoke said they are satisfied with county services and didn't want to incorporate.
Top officials from Modesto and the county attended the meeting, held in the Salida library's community room.
"It is fantastic to listen to your passion for Salida," said City Manager Greg Nyhoff, assuring audience members their voices were being heard.
County Supervisor Terry Withrow said residents clearly have stated their opposition at public meetings. He still favored holding town hall meetings to share results of a fiscal study on the annexation plan.
The $60,000 study concluded that development of the 3,400-acre Salida growth plan would more than pay for county or city services for Salida.
Withrow said the process is informing residents about the growth plan that received county approval in 2007. It calls for large-scale business park, commercial and residential construction, although some officials want to adjust the plan to save farmland north of Modesto.
A vocal group of Salidans supported the plan in 2007 as a blueprint for city incorporation.
Town hall sessions
Withrow said he's trying to schedule a meeting with an ad hoc committee to plan the town hall sessions. Salida, the county and Modesto are represented on the committee.
Modesto Councilman Dave Geer said he favored holding an advisory vote to let Salidans decide whether they are annexed. He agreed that the town hall meetings are the next step.
"There are advantages to Salidans whether they realize it or not," Geer said. "There is going to be development down the road. People with land on the east side of (Highway 99) are not going to sit on their land forever."
Because it straddles the freeway, Salida is considered a prime location for economic development. While the county lacks the ability to pay for infrastructure, some officials suggest that Modesto could pay for improvements to develop business parks near Gregori High School.
Reeves said the city and county should have asked the opinion of Salida leaders to start with. "I would rather Salida be considered first and not an afterthought," he said.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.