October 23, 2012

Modesto council postpones hearing on shopping center

A Modesto City Council hearing on a northeast Modesto shopping center proposal was postponed for two weeks after an attorney for project foes raised legal issues in a letter to the city Tuesday.

A City Council hearing on a northeast Modesto shopping center proposal was postponed for two weeks after an attorney for project foes raised legal issues in a letter to the city Tuesday.

Attorney Thomas Terpstra wrote that plans for The Marketplace center at Sylvan Avenue and Oakdale Road have not addressed the potential negative impacts on homeowners in the Naraghi Lakes subdivision, just west of the 18-acre site.

Terpstra's letter said the council should require an environmental study, which could delay the project for months. He submitted a professional critique that claimed the traffic study on the center was flawed.

City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood advised the council to continue the hearing until Nov. 6 so she could analyze the attorney's arguments. Terpstra is representing the Naraghi Lakes Neighborhood Preservation Association — residents who opposed the center at Planning Commission meetings in August and September.

Councilman Dave Cogdill Jr., whose district includes the site, said he did not support delaying the hearing when the association had asked for more time early this month. But he made the motion for the continuance, approved by a 5-0 council vote. Councilman John Gunderson was absent and Joe Muratore cited a conflict of interest — he has done work for the developers, Berberian Holdings.

Plans for The Marketplace, at the southwest corner of Sylvan and Oakdale, include a 52,000-square-foot grocery store, a potential drugstore, restaurants, shops and other businesses. City staff has praised the design guidelines, which call for buildings with pitched roofs, decorative awnings, trellises with climbing vines and other aesthetic features.

The Naraghi Lakes homeowners say there would be virtually no buffer between the center and their homes. They fear the neighborhood would suffer from increased traffic, truck noise, air pollution and glare.

Residents predict that a Save Mart and other stores will move to the new center from the nearby Lakes shopping center at Oakdale and Floyd Avenue, creating blight there.

Save Mart has expressed serious interest in putting a store at The Marketplace.

In a separate issue raised at Tuesday's council meeting, several speakers urged city officials to take action against cat dumping. They said one man has admitted to trapping cats in his neighborhood and relocating them miles away along Dry Creek.

The advocates demand that authorities bring animal cruelty charges against two alleged cat trappers. Council members could not take action because the item was not on the agenda.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.


The Modesto City Council took the following action Tuesday:

Revised plans for the second and third phases of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, so that remaining funds could be spent developing almost 30 units of senior or special needs housing. The funding will jumpstart two inactive redevelopment efforts, the Downey Avenue and Bennett Place housing projects, at 412 and 416 Downey Ave. and 421 Lincoln Ave., respectively.

Approved a labor agreement with the Modesto City Employees Association, requiring workers to pick up their share of payments for retirement benefits. The contract with public works, parks and other employees includes a 1.5 percent wage increase and mandatory furloughs.

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