Armstrong Road area not considered for potential expansion

Jul 2—Citing potential blowback from property owners, the Lodi City Council during a special Tuesday morning meeting rejected the idea of ​​considering land around Armstrong Road as a future area for annexation.

Councilman Doug Kuehne suggested including what is known as the Armstrong Road Agricultural Cluster Study Area in the city’s municipal services review (MSR) and proposed sphere of influence process to be submitted to the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Committee later this year.

The land in question, which is about a mile wide and extends half a mile both north and south of Armstrong Road, would be considered an “area of ​​interest” as part of the MSR and SOI process.

Contract engineer Paul Junker told the council an “area of ​​interest” is land in which it is expected two cities would want to incorporate into their respective spheres of influence.

“If a city were to establish an area of ​​interest, then LAFCo would need to consider our concerns and comments before they could change any boundary of a SOI or approve an annexation within an area of ​​interest,” Junker said. “A city cannot designate an AOI over the SOI of another city, and two cities cannot have AOI designations on the same land so only one city can identify an area of ​​land as an interest.”

Junker said that the City of Stockton updated its own MSR and SOI in 2020, and has expressed a desire to create an AOI that ends at the southern boundary of the Armstrong Road cluster area.

However, he said Stockton has not officially made requests to LAFCo, to designate any lands near Lodi as part of its own SOI.

While LAFCo would process any SOI and AOI request from Stockton, Junker said, he didn’t see one being made anytime soon.

He added he didn’t see any conflict between Stockton and Lodi over the land, and that it did not appear the former was expanding toward the city.

Designating the Armstrong Road area as an AOI would be a buffer that keeps Stockton from encroaching near the city limits, he said.

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Kuehne said he once suggested the idea of ​​designating the Armstrong Road area as an AOI as former LAFCo chair, and wondered why it never came to fruition, aside from the fact that nearby property owners were against the proposal several years ago.

He said designating an AOI there would merely act as a placeholder that prohibits Stockton and San Joaquin County from developing anything without Lodi’s approval.

He added if LAFCo determined the city would be required to convene another committee to declare an AOI, he would support the idea.

“It doesn’t mean were ever going to develop there,” he said. “I think the citizens of Lodi deserve that. They’ve been asking for that for a very long time, and it ensures that Stockton can’t migrate based on the time frame that we’ve done our SOI. If we don’t employ it now, when will we? Now is the time to do it, and ensures we have a bit of control south of Armstrong Road.”

Mayor Mark Chandler said while he was open to the idea of ​​establishing an AOI, he thought including it in the current MSR and SOI process was premature.

He suggested delaying designating the land as such until property owners in the area were consulted. He added that inclusion of an AOI could delay approval of the current MSR and SOI process.

“There was a very robust discussion about 15 years ago,” Chandler said. “All the affected landowners in that area coalesced around a plan, and there were some parameters about what they wanted to see happen in that area so it would preserve the farming, but would also allow certain types of farming-related activities. And 200 people agreed on the plan. If we go to a 2x2x2 Committee, we have to have the landowners consulted on this.”

Chandler was joined by Vice Mayor Mikey Hothi and councilman Alan Nakanishi in rejecting Kuehne’s motion.

The council then voted 3-2 to submit the MSR and SOI as recommended by the Lodi Planning Commission last week, which establishes three potential areas for annexation on the western southern and eastern sides of the city.

Those future lands include an area just north of Kettleman Lane, south of West Vine Street and west of Lower Sacramento Road; an area south of Harney Lane and west of the Union Pacific railroad tracks; and a piece of land south of Kettleman Lane and east of Highway 99.

Kuehne and councilman Shak Khan dissented on the ultimate motion. Junker said staff would work on establishing an AOI near Armstrong Road for possible inclusion in a future MSR and SOI update.

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