Menifee council workshop reviews possible spheres of influence alternatives

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Menifee City Council took a hard look at the city’s growth and potential land needs during a workshop meeting to discuss adding in a sphere of influence where potential annexations might be beneficial to the city in the next 50 years.

Since its incorporation Menifee has not designated its sphere of influence, or where the growth in homes and businesses outside of the city affect its city residents and government and where it might be more of concern in planning the future.

The workshop held before the regular city council meeting Wednesday, Dec. 18, brought Doug Darnell, Menifee senior planner, to the podium to present several alternatives to the city’s sphere of influence. He said the city did not have a set sphere of influence.

Darnell showed three possible alternatives and sub-alternatives for a city sphere of influence.

The third alternative, with the largest land area, presented encompassing from 19,819 to 20,470 acres of land, some of which might be possible to annex, reaching from Briggs Road from the south to Highway 79 on the north and from Scott Road to Ellis Avenue on Highway 74 in Homeland, was favored by the five member council.

This alternative would overlap Murrieta’s sphere of influence, through downtown Winchester and north to Highway 74 in Homeland. The alternative would increase the current city’s land area by 65%, according to Darnell.

Darnell explained this designated sphere of influence would be located in the same area that the residents of Winchester are in discussion with Riverside County about the possibility of one day becoming their own community or city. He added the plan also might have to be discussed with the city of Murrieta.

Councilman Matthew Liesemeyer from Menifee’s District 2 suggested the city or an ad hoc committee be formed to meet with the residents of the Winchester community about its future plans.

“They might want to incorporate down the road. We might talk about what their goals are and what ours are. This is a very sensitive issue,” Liesemeyer said. “Going all the way to Winchester Road (Alternative 3)? I don’t see that happening soon.”

City Manager Armando Villa said, “That is a good idea for them to work with us.”

He reminded the council that designating a proposed sphere of influence, however, does not mean the city will in the future make any actual annexations in the area. He suggested that the city might seek out a Memorandum of Understanding with the county on Winchester community area and with the city of Murrieta on the spheres of influence and future residential and commercial plans for the area.

The planned Caltrans realignment of Highway 79 from Winchester Road was also raised as possible planning issue in the sphere of influence.

Mayor Bill Zimmerman said whatever happens within the Winchester spheres of influence, “Menifee should have a seat at the table.”

“It’s a concern in the Murrieta too,” Councilman Dean Deines said of the area northeast of Highway 79 (Winchester Road).

Villa said the city has a lot to go through before it determines its sphere of influence and how to plan for the future in the outside city areas and still avoid any lawsuits.

“It’s the consensus to pick up the 3 or 3A (sphere of influence area),” Zimmerman said.

Leismeyer said they should amend any sphere of influence alternative to include possible meetings with the county residents and cities in the proposal before it’s too late and the city has “to spend a lot of money for political reasons.”

The council took no formal action in the workshop, taking the information under advisement for future meetings.

The planners sphere of influence and boundary maps and types of residential units, commercial centers and agriculture areas that might show up in those areas is available at www.cityofmenifee.us.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.