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Both sides keep quiet as Stanislaus County leaders give initial approval for Wood Colony MAC

Beckwith Road west of Beckwith Court in Wood Colony is seen Monday. Stanislaus County’s Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to set the ball in motion for forming a municipal advisory council for a 15,560-acre area west of Modesto.
Beckwith Road west of Beckwith Court in Wood Colony is seen Monday. Stanislaus County’s Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to set the ball in motion for forming a municipal advisory council for a 15,560-acre area west of Modesto. jlee@modbee.com

Some of the combatants in Wood Colony’s struggle with Modesto were present Tuesday, but they kept silent.

Without discussion, Stanislaus County’s Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to set the ball in motion for forming a municipal advisory council for a 15,560-acre area west of Modesto. Supervisor Kristin Olsen cited car trouble in not attending the meeting.

The county could create the MAC after holding a Feb. 28 public hearing.

Proponents have said the MAC will give the rural community a voice and information on zoning proposals and land-use matters within the vast territory, where about 2,500 residents live. The boundaries stretch from Highway 99 and Morse Road to Gates Road, north of Highway 132. Bacon Road forms the northern boundary.

According to a county staff report, the five-member council will advise county leaders on “matters of public health, welfare, safety, planning, public works” and other possible issues.

“We are just a neighborhood that is trying to communicate with our neighbors,” said Lisa Braden, who has worked on forming the MAC. “It is to keep us better informed. We are an advisory council for what is going on in our area.”

Municipal advisory councils have no authority but can serve as a collective voice for influencing local government decisions or policy.

Before Tuesday’s action, Modesto land-use attorney George Petrulakis warned Wood Colony landowners in letters that their property rights and plans for their land could be negatively affected.

Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold expressed disappointment that Wood Colony residents didn’t inform the city they were forming a MAC. Modesto’s general plan has plotted some development west of the city in what’s regarded as Wood Colony territory.

Although a staff report for Tuesday’s board meeting included times for four meetings at which the MAC was supposedly discussed, county staff members said the report was in error. Two meetings were held: on March 13, 2014, and on Sept. 14 of last year.

Invitations for the March 2014 meeting at Hart Ransom School said in bold letters that news media were not invited. The residents attending the September meeting at the Woodland Avenue fire department indicated their support for forming the MAC.

Ruben Imperial, a staff member in the county chief executive’s office, said letters were sent to residents within the proposed MAC boundaries to notify people of the September meeting. “We did not publicly notice it as a regular Brown Act meeting,” Imperial said, referring to the state’s public meeting law.

The notification letters were not sent to Modesto or representatives of any other city, staff members said.

The packet for Tuesday’s board meeting included proposed bylaws for the Wood Colony MAC. The council has to meet at least four times a year “at a regular convenient time and a place” and must comply with the Brown Act.

The Board of Supervisors will appoint the members of the advisory council. The county has seven other MACs.

Members of the Salida MAC have opposed annexation of the unincorporated community to Modesto and host presentations by local officials on everything from water service to sidewalk repairs. The South Modesto MAC has recently served as a forum for raising concerns about a scrap metal recycler on South Ninth Street and reviewing plans for community improvements.

Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321

Stanislaus supervisors watch

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors took the following action Tuesday:

  • Approved a consent item recommending $876,000 in repairs and improvements for a sheriff’s helicopter that was damaged in a hard landing in July.
  • Reappointed Milton O’Haire as county agricultural commissioner for a four-year term.
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