Modesto council backs sewer inspection, takes more heat over Wood Colony

kvaline@modbee.comFebruary 4, 2014 

The Modesto City Council on Tuesday approved spending more than $1 million for the closed-circuit TV inspection of several hundred miles of sewer lines.

But before council members got to that and other city business, they heard from about a dozen Wood Colony residents and their supporters, who decried the council’s decision last week to include the colony – a farming enclave west of Highway 99 – in the city’s growth plans. And one speaker claimed Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer accosted her last week.

Tuesday’s speakers criticized the council for making what they said was a hasty and bad decision that did not take into consideration the roughly 300 people who turned out last week to oppose including the colony in the city’s plans.

“We are going to continue coming back,” one colony resident said. “I’m super-disappointed this council cannot listen to the voices of 300 people.”

The council voted 5-2 on Jan. 28 to include Wood Colony in Modesto’s general plan, which serves as a blueprint for city growth in the coming decades. Councilmen Dave Lopez and Bill Zoslocki cast the “no” votes.

The city proposes setting aside about 1,100 acres in the colony for commercial development and business parks and designating 1,340 acres in the colony as farmland. But Tuesday’s speakers said the colony does not belong in the general plan, and they fear the city will change the designation of the 1,340 acres from agriculture to development.

Colony resident Marsha Davis said that during a break at the Jan. 28 meeting, Kenoyer yelled and waved her arms at her. Kenoyer said that is not true. She said she spoke to Davis about Davis trespassing in Kenoyer’s “guarded community” last month while passing out fliers critical of the councilwoman.

“You trespassed on my property,” said Kenoyer, who lives in a mobile home park. Davis said in an interview that she and another person placed fliers on park residents’ doorsteps and porches. The fliers accused Kenoyer, elected in November, of breaking her campaign promise to protect farmland.

The council also heard from Salida residents who oppose having their unincorporated community north of Wood Colony in the general plan. Modesto is in the midst of amending the land-use and transportation components of its general plan. The council voted last week on a proposed land-use map.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to hire Sacramento-based ABC Service to conduct the closed-circuit TV inspection of about 400 miles of city sewer lines. The work is expected to cost as much as $491,550 per year and take as long as three years to complete. The inspection will help the city pinpoint and fix problems with its sewer lines.

The inspection is one of the tasks Modesto agreed to do under a recent settlement it reached with a clean water advocacy group that sued the city in federal court in 2012 over its sewage spills.

Modesto agreed in December to pay $161,500 to settle the lawsuit filed against it by the Stockton-based California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, which claimed the city had violated the federal Clean Water Act because of its more than 310 sewage spills from July 2007 through June 2012, which released nearly 379,000 gallons of raw or partially treated sewage.

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