County told to keep title for West Side project site

Stanislaus County should retain ownership of the 1,527-acre Crows Landing Air Facility as it develops as a business park, a county ad hoc committee says.The county Board of Supervisors will consider that recommendation today as it hears a six-month progress report on negotiations with the developer, PCCP West Park.

The committee, comprising Supervisors Jim DeMartini and Dick Monteith, considered several options, including selling the land at market value or at a discount, giving it to developers or tenants, and keeping it and leasing it to tenants.

Keeping the land gives the county greater control of the property, said county deputy executive officer Keith Boggs, and allows the county to operate a runway at the site as a general aviation airport.

The county obtained the former naval air station site in 2004 and hopes to turn the property into an indus- trial park to create jobs and tax revenue.

PCCP West Park, headed by Sacramento-based developer Gerry Kamilos, won the right to negotiate a master development agreement with the county. The West Park proposal includes 4,800 acres to be developed for industrial and business park uses. The surrounding land is in agriculture, and West Park has negotiated purchase options on much of it.

The West Park proposal includes a plan to link the Crows Landing site with the Port of Oakland with a short-haul railroad. That rail link depends on funding from last year's state infrastructure bonds.

The bond funding decision was delayed with the recent state budget impasse, which may lead to an extension of the negotiations between the county and West Park. The negotiations were to take 12 months, but the bond money may not be awarded until July or August of next year, according to a county staff report.

A possible extension of the negotiating likely will be discussed in the next three months, Boggs said.

Other issues addressed in the report to be discussed at the board meeting this morning include:

A water source for the project. West Park is considering a combination of surface and ground water, although no source for the surface water has been identified. The developer also is considering a system that would allow treated waste water to be recycled for landscaping and possibly farm irrigation.

A waste-water treatment plant could be constructed on-site, possibly near Highway 33 and Marshall Road. The plant also would serve the community of Crows Landing, a county board mandate. An alternative would be to pump waste water to plants in Modesto or Patterson.

A storm water drainage plan to include two basins to collect rain runoff, including one at the northwest corner of the project and another near Highway 33. A flooding study will be done on Salado Creek and Little Salado Creek.

A traffic study is under way to determine how much extra traffic will be generated by the project. West Park will pay its share of the cost of improving the surrounding roads.

The north-south runway on the site is to be used as part of the "inland port" created with the Oakland rail link. New rail lines would be put in parallel to the centerline of the abandoned runway.

All the details are subject to change, Boggs said, as the developer, the ad hoc committee and the agencies involved in the planning raise issues.

"It's a work in progress from preliminary studies and draft analysis," he said. "The third quarter report will get closer to the ground."

The report also notes that the project remains controversial, with organized opposition as well as supporters in the county.

The Board of Supervisors is to meet at 9 a.m. today in the basement chambers at 1010 10th St., Modesto.

Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at tmoran@modbee.com or 578-2349.