PATTERSON -- A proposal to enlarge the city by nearly a third is in the hands of a county committee after the City Council unanimously approved it.
Council members spent 10 hours over two meetings hashing out details of a 1,100-acre expansion to the West Patterson Business Park that would grow the city west to Interstate 5.
The project is moving swiftly through the required channels; last Monday's decision was timed to meet an Aug. 1 deadline for the Local Agency Formation Commission, which backers hope will take up the matter in October.
"I think the developer really is highly motivated to keep it moving, primarily because they want to be ahead of West Park project," Patterson City Manager Rod Butler said.
West Park is a 2,800-acre plan proposed by Sacramento developer Gerry Kamilos to turn a former naval base in Crows Landing into an inland port. Planned in 2007 to cover 4,800 acres, West Park has been downsized and now hangs in limbo as county officials await a $2.75 million deposit from Kamilos due this week.
"Gerry thinks West Park and Patterson's business parks would complement each other," Butler said. "I think the local developers see it more as competitors."
Landowner Jeff Arambel, a longtime Patterson resident, is hoping to capitalize on Patterson's recent success landing distribution centers for Internet giant Amazon, office supplier Grainger and retailers Kohl's and CVS.
"We're just pressing forward," Arambel said after his project won Patterson's approval.
If LAFCo approves the annexation, the city will grow from 5.95 square miles to about 7.69 square miles.
The proposal includes a smaller retail parcel to be developed by KDN Enterprises along Interstate 5. Officials envision retail growth in four to five years, after the city population grows. But if all goes well, construction could be under way in the new business park expansion by late next year, Butler said.
Arambel successfully argued for a lower impact fee, which will be used to pay for work on roads, lights and the like. He sought roughly $60 million, or less than half of what city staff said would be necessary to provide for all the work.
What remains to be determined is how much he will pay per acre for the park. According to Butler, Arambel is seeking $2,500 per year, while city staff is looking for $3,300.
Current tenants at the business park pay the higher fee, Butler said.
"To give Arambel and KDN the $2,500-per-acre fee would be to give them a competitive advantage over the existing park," he said.
City staff hopes to add a clause to the agreement saying the city's general fund would not be responsible for paying for any of those costs. With budgets increasingly tight, the city doesn't want to be on the hook for taking money away from areas such as public safety and general services to pay for infrastructure, Butler said.
County officials also have expressed concern that developers pay for street upgrades that will be necessary with the increased traffic on county roads.
"We're not opposed to a business park in Patterson," said Supervisor Jim DeMartini, who represents Patterson and sits on LAFCo. "(Neighboring) Keystone park has been very successful. Patterson is in kind of a unique location."
But in the initial proposal, developers wanted to pay for only a portion of the costs it will take to make county roads suitable for the trucks that will use them. "We have to resolve that issue," DeMartini said, adding that he felt confident an agreement would be reached.
A vociferous opponent to Kamilos' West Park, DeMartini said Patterson's project makes much more sense. "I'm sure that Arambel's project is going to be more successful," he said. "Logistically, that is a very good area to have a park.
There aren't a lot of places next to a freeway where you can buy a lot of acres."
Butler acknowledged that the development will result in the loss of some agricultural land; the property now has peaches and apricots.
"We think part of what needs to happen in Stanislaus County is the diversification of the economy," he said. "We're really excited about the potential that it offers."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2343.