PATTERSON — Boosted by the promise of 10,000 jobs, Patterson on Wednesday overcame significant opposition and won the right to annex a huge swath of truck-friendly freeway frontage.
The city hopes to keep its reputation as Stanislaus Countys premier location for giant distribution centers with the 1,119-acre West Patterson Business Park along Interstate 5, next to a proven industrial center that has lured several important companies including Amazon in recent years.
Patterson is where these new jobs are in our county, said Bill OBrien, a county supervisor and chairman of the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission.
On a 5-0 vote, its members on Wednesday sided against their staff, which said Jeff Arambel and KDN Enterprises development might not have sufficient water and sewer capacity or generate enough money for road improvements and would sacrifice prime farmland.
I dont think that dangling the word jobs overrides every single principle of good planning that we know, said Brad Barker of Modesto. But he was the only audience member to speak against the proposal in Wednesdays 21/2-hour hearing.
Jim DeMartini, representing the county, spoke harshly of Pattersons plan to charge developers 7 cents per square foot of new building area for road improvements, noting that the countys going rate is 95 cents. Youre giving away the store, he said.
County road officials led stringent opposition when Patterson previously applied for the annexation earlier this year. But the county recently reached a deal with the city and, despite his open criticism, DeMartini decided in the end to support the proposal.
This is an opportunity, I think, to make a difference in our community and in the lives of a lot of people, said proponent Joe Hollowell.
Commission staff members said about two-thirds of Patterson remains vacant; those areas should be developed before the city asks to grow further, they said.
But commissioner Charlie Goeken, Waterfords mayor, said precious little of that land comes in bunches of hundreds of acres along Interstate5, while Arambels proposal does.
Offering jobs close to home, he said, will result in less commuter pollution and stronger communities because parents will spend more time with families.
I dont see how a rational person could oppose this, Goeken said.
Modesto land-use attorney George Petrulakis said his clients received unfair treatment in the commission staffs 35-page report. Patterson and Turlock are the countys only bright spots with buildable industrial land, he said, noting failures in Modesto and Salida while Tracy recently annexed hundreds of acres, many reserved for business development.
Thats what cities do that are serious about economic development, Petrulakis said.
Commissioner Brad Hawn, a former Modesto councilman representing the public on the commission, pointed to dismally high unemployment and said, We have got to do something about that.
Amy Bublak, a commissioner and Turlock councilwoman, applauded Patterson for its vision. They want to be the best city they can, she said.
Commissioners also unanimously approved Modestos request to annex 84 acres for the future Woodglen development near Pelandale Avenue and Carver Road. That item, representing Modestos first housing development in five years, drew no comments.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.