State

Modesto plans annexation with shared fire protection

The Modesto City Council today could approve a 30-acre annexation on Kiernan Avenue, but this land grab is designed to soften the blow to the Salida Fire Protection District.

The annexation includes an agreement for the Salida and Modesto fire departments to jointly protect the area zoned for business park development. Benchmark Engineering is asking the city to annex the three parcels on Kiernan Avenue, east of Dale Road, as part of the Kiernan Business Park planning area of northwest Modesto.

The Salida district would continue to collect fire assessments from the acreage but would give half of the tax revenue to the city.

Such agreements could benefit smaller fire districts in Stanislaus County, which have their resources sapped by city growth.

Normally, as the city annexes property, special districts such as Salida lose land and the fire assessments that pay for salaries and equipment. The Modesto Fire Department takes on more territory but can't collect fire taxes.

Officials say it's best for the Salida and Modesto agencies to jointly serve the Kiernan Avenue corridor. Engines can respond from the Salida station on Salida Boulevard, while the city can deploy units from Station No. 11 on Carver Road.

The initial agreement was approved by the Salida Fire Protection District board in March. As the two agencies develop their relationship, Modesto also could help Salida with administrative support and training.

The landowners involved in the annexation have not submitted development plans. City staff said the zoning allows for offices, light industrial and other business park land uses.

"The market is not the best right now, but they are preparing the site for the future," city Planning Manager Patrick Kelly said.

If the council gives approval, the annexation likely would go before the Local Agency Formation Commission, which has the final say on growth, in August.

The Kiernan annexation and a city budget hearing top the agenda for the Modesto City Council meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or 578-2321.

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