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One of the valley's biggest shopping centers might well be annexed into Sandy as the city continues to reach beyond its current boundaries.

By swallowing the Family Center, a sprawling shopping complex whose size is set to more than double to 450,000 square feet under a proposed expansion, Sandy would claim the crown jewel of tax-producing properties in the Union area, just south of I-215 between 1000 and 1300 East.And it would dash nearby Midvale's dream of enriching its own tax base.

"It's a little disturbing," said Midvale Mayor Everett Dahl. "If they take that area up there and leave all those county residents sitting between Midvale and the Family Center without a tax base it would place an undue burden on Salt Lake County or on us if we annexed it."

Midvale leaders are considering annexation of a large block of what is now Salt Lake County, to as far east as 1300 East. The move would double Midvale's size and would include the Family Center and its assorted commercial properties.

But Sandy might have the upper hand because it owns the water system that supplies the shopping center.

"We have the water - we can serve them and Midvale cannot," said Sandy Mayor Larry Smith, who added that the city has been approached by Hermes Associates Ltd., which owns the center and, according to Smith, has expressed interest in being annexed.

"We have indications they're going to bring us an annexation petition," he said.

The expansion's developers couldn't be reached immediately for comment.

Smith noted the area is less than a half mile from the Sandy city limits and that its annexation wouldn't occur "until such time as it becomes contiguous," a development he said could occur "within the next couple of years."

Expansion of the shopping center has been a contentious issue in the area, where some homeowners say it will encroach upon peaceful neighborhoods and history buffs have objected to what they say will be its destructive impact on the pioneer Union Fort site and the historic Jehu Cox home.