MODESTO — The City Council will consider Tuesday a plan for Modestos future that does not include Salida the citys unincorporated neighbor to the northwest but sets aside hundreds of acres of prime farmland west of Highway 99 for industrial and commercial development.
These are among the proposed changes included in an update to Modestos general plan, which serves as a blueprint for the citys growth.
City staff is recommending the council accept the proposed update and authorize spending $75,000 for the environmental studies for the update before it comes back to the council in 2015 for adoption.
But Mayor Garrad Marsh said Monday he will recommend the council only take comments from the public regarding the update and not make a decision until January or February. Marsh said he is making that recommendation to give the three new members of the seven member council time to come up to speed with the general plan update.
The meeting is likely to be lively with Salida residents reiterating their opposition to having their community become part of the city and farmland preservation advocates decrying the loss of ag land for business parks to economic development proponents lobbying for commercial and industrial sites that bring in well-paying jobs for a city with chronically high unemployment.
Modesto has spent about two years working on updating the general plans land-use and traffic components. The Planning Commission recommended in September that the council accept the proposed changes, which include:
• Dropping Salida from the general plan. That would end any attempts by the city to annex the community of about 13,700 residents. Marsh has pushed for exploring annexation since his first State of the City address in February 2012, saying Salidas proximity to Highway 99 makes it a prime location for large-scale business parks. But he has faced vehement opposition from Salida residents.
When asked Monday about his position on Salida, Marsh said he wanted to listen to what the public had to say.
• Removing the village residential designation north of Kiernan Avenue, which would protect prime farmland and quality groundwater recharge areas. Village residential calls for a mix of housing, parks, schools and stores.
• Incorporating Modestos and others efforts to revitalize downtown and make it one of the citys job centers. Modesto is considering such measures as offering incentives to certain types of businesses that stay or locate downtown. It also is working on landing a new courthouse for 10th Street and hoping the Altamont Corridor Express builds a commuter train station downtown in a few years, which will bring more people downtown.
• Roughly doubling the size of the Beckwith Road-Dakota Avenue triangle to about 1,800 acres for industrial and commercial development, such as food manufacturers, distribution centers and technology parks. The area is west of Highway 99 and on prime farmland, but the city says its also a prime location for development because of its proximity to Highways 99 and 132.
This is our best hope for future industrial development, Community and Economic Development Director Brent Sinclair said.
The City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St. More information about the general plan update is available at http://modestogov.com/ced/projects/gp-amendment.asp.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.