Wood Colony will have a municipal advisory council, giving the rural community west of Modesto a voice in land-use proposals and other matters.
The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors approved formation of the MAC on a 5-0 vote Tuesday, though not everyone who spoke at the hearing wanted to be within the boundary.
Bill Genasci, who lives on Finney Road near Salida, within the northern boundary of the MAC, said his family does not consider itself part of the historic or current Wood Colony community.
Genasci said he and other property owners don’t recall getting notices on the proposed advisory council. “I am a little confused on how it got this far,” he said.
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Even county supervisors had questions about the size of the 15,560-acre unincorporated area covered by the council. The area stretches from Highway 99 and Morse Road west to Gates Road, between Highway 132 and Bacon Road.
Lori Wolf, who helped organize the council, said people well outside the historic core of Wood Colony attended a March 2014 meeting and wanted their property included.
Keith Boggs, county assistant executive officer, said the MAC boundary was requested by residents. Notices were sent to Wood Colony residents and property owners for a March 2014 meeting at Hart-Ransom School and a second meeting in September, Boggs said.
Sign posts for Wood Colony say the farming community was founded in 1869 on Beckwith Road; some of the early farmland apparently is covered today by Vintage Faire Mall. Members of the German Baptist Brethren Church were among the early settlers.
Today, the colony is a battleground for residents who’ve opposed Modesto’s plans to put big-box retailers and business parks west of the city. And those sympathetic to Wood Colony say development would pave an area that’s rich in history and productive cropland.
Some speakers with deep roots in the county said it’s not such a stretch to imagine that Wood Colony encompasses the 15,000-plus acres.
David Jones, whose ancestors started a ranch in 1853, the year before the county was founded, said the colony began as an original cluster of farms, and additional farms planted by settlers filled in the area over the decades.
Todd Heinrich, who lives on Shoemake Avenue, said longtime residents including his grandmother, with land out to Hart Road, identified themselves with the colony.
The five-member council will give the county advice on issues affecting Wood Colony, though it has no real authority. The panel can serve as a forum for discussing land use, sheriff’s patrols, roads and other concerns.
Supervisor Terry Withrow said he wants the council to reserve a spot on agendas for dialogue with Modesto and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. An eastern portion of the colony is within the city’s “sphere of influence” for planning purposes.
Supervisor Jim DeMartini said the South Modesto MAC has created the momentum for park improvements, streetlights and community cleanups. The county also has active municipal advisory councils for Salida, Valley Home, Hickman, Denair, Keyes and Knights Ferry.
Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321
Board of Supervisors watch
The Board of Supervisors took the following action Tuesday:
- Appointed Sandip Sandhu as the new public defender at a salary of $178,859 a year. Public Defender Tim Bazar will retire March 17.
- Approved a contract with Pacific Health Consulting Group to prepare a business and facility plan for the Health Services Agency.
- Received an update on the Stanislaus County Regional Water Safety Training Center.