MODESTO — Mayor Garrad Marsh is asking the Modesto City Council to protect agricultural land.
He is expected to ask the council tonight to support his proposal to direct staff to develop a policy that conserves farmland. The policy then would be brought back to the council for adoption. The policy could be vetted at public hearings and other venues before a council vote.
Marsh has made saving farmland one of his top priorities. He mentioned it during his state of the city address in February.
"I believe it is paramount to also protect and secure our largest strategic advantage, agriculture," he said then. "Therefore, we will soon be considering farmland mitigation proposals similar to those already adopted by the county and LAFCo."
LAFCo is the Local Agency Formation Commission, which deals with annexations and other growth-related issues.
Two ways to do it
A city report says the council tonight can choose between asking staff to develop a policy that is consistent with the one LAFCo adopted in September or one that is consistent with the environmental impact report developed for Tivoli, a proposal for a mostly residential, 400-plus-acre development east of Oakdale Road. Tivoli has been dormant since the real estate crash of several years ago.
Modesto Community and Economic Development Director Brent Sinclair said some of the primary differences between the LAFCo and Tivoli plans include:
LAFCo requires that for every acre of farmland paved over for new homes, another acre is preserved for farmland. The 1:1 mitigation measure applies no matter the quality of the ag land.
Tivoli requires mitigation measures be taken only for prime ag land. Additionally, Tivoli applies to all development, such as housing subdivisions and industrial and commercial uses.
LAFCo provides Stanislaus County cities with several options, such as voter-approved urban growth boundaries.
During his state of the city address, Marsh also said he wanted the City Council to put before the voters in November former Councilman Denny Jackman's urban boundary proposal for approval. Jackman is a leader in farmland preservation in the county.
Marsh said Monday that he expects Jackman's proposal to come before the City Council in late April.
The City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.
MODESTO CITY COUNCIL WATCH
The Modesto City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. today in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St. The council is expected to:
Consider awarding a contract to Gillig LLC of Hayward for the purchase of eight buses for use in the Modesto Area Express transit system for as much as $3.9 million. These buses will replace 23-year-old city buses that have exceeded their life spans.
Consider approving a resolution asking the State Water Resources Control Board to reconsider its draft plan that calls for the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers to divert 35 percent of their flows from February through June each year to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay. Local irrigation districts, farmers and others have decried the proposal, saying it would cause irreparable harm to agriculture and other Northern San Joaquin Valley interests.
Consider approving plans and specifications for the Jennings Wastewater Treatment Plan improvement project. The total estimated cost for the construction for this project is $1.134 million.