ELK GROVE, Calif. -- The mayor of Elk Grove is making his case for expanding the city's boundaries and economic future, but critics of the plan say the mayor's vision is near-sighted.

Elk Grove wants to claim 8,000 acres at its southern end near the Franklin Laguna community. New developments create jobs and the city says it needs to create space for new residents. According to the Sacramento Bee, Elk Grove is one of the fastest growing areas in the country.

Rob Burness and the Environmental Council of Sacramento say that land is already taken. Birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway need to stretch their wings, and other local creatures are endangered.

"The area is vital forging habitat for waterfowl for the at the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge," Burness said.

Burness says Elk Grove sits on fertile land for job growth, it's just not being cultivated.

"We think they need to do a much better job of planning for the growth that can occur within their boundaries than they have previously. And that they should focus on that before they consider a land grab for vacant land to the south that would just continue urban sprawl," Burness said.
A hearing will settle the land dispute on Nov. 6. Burness believes an age old battle is far from over.

"The speculators and land developers have significant access and influence in the local political process, and there will always be that pressure. Our desire and our objective are to bring balance and sanity to that discussion," Burness said.

Elk Grove is promising to grow responsibly. Sacramento County is OK with the city's plan. Now they're trying meet approval from federal regulators, and the Local Agency Formation Commotion.