By Angela Greenwood

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Should the city of Elk Grove expand?

That was the debate Wednesday night during a regional planning hearing. The city is looking to push its boundaries south, by more than 1,000 acres, near Kammerer Road and Highway 99.

It’s a controversial plan that was narrowly given the green light on a 4-to-3 vote, but only to start planning for potential new development, not to make any physical changes yet.

Those in favor of the growth say Elk Grove needs to plan for the future, as it expects to grow by 46,000 people in the coming years, but those against it say the city is big enough and the negative impacts would be huge.

Hundreds of acres of wide open space near Highway 99 and Kammerer Road could one day become a development destination if the city of Elk Grove has its way.

Executive Director of the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission Don Lockhart said, “At some point in the future for the city to compensate for new demand and new growth, so they don’t run out of acreage.”

Tonight was the first step. The Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, decided whether to allow the city the opportunity to grow by amending what’s called its ‘Sphere of Influence’ to include an additional 1,156 acres beyond its southern border. The area is near a planned Indian casino and outlet mall, and many landowners appear to be on board.

Lockhart also says it’s a good idea.

“To add some more jobs some more housing to this to serve their population.”

But opponents like Shawn Worth, an environmentalist with the Sierra Club, say new development would wipe out farming and wildlife.

“They have enough land already inside the city.”

Paul Lindsay who lives in the area is concerned about everyday impacts.

“‘Increased traffic, increased smog, that kind of thing.”

LAFCO did identify some problems with the proposal, coming back with 22 recommendations for the city, including identifying a sustainable water supply.

Now that the city was handed a victory in a 4-3 vote, Lockhart says those details can start being worked out.

“So that they can start thinking about the big picture about how we’re going to put plumbing there, water sewer, sanitary sewer, how are we going to finance?” said Lockhart.

This vote was to open the door for the possibility of growth. In order for the city of Elk Grove to actually be able to annex the land into its boundaries, it will have to have to work out many more details and bring a proposal back to the planning commission, which officials say could be years down the line, if it happens at all.

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