Oakdale council OKs east, west growth plans

OAKDALE -- Growth plans are afoot.

The City Council gave the go-ahead Monday night to start two new plans: the West Oakdale Specific Plan and the East Oakdale Specific Plan.

Because of conflicts of interest, Mayor Farrell Jackson and council members Tom Dunlop and Toni Hanson excused themselves for parts of the discussion. All three own property in at least one area of the city being discussed for development. They returned and left with such frequency that some jokingly referred to it as musical chairs.

To avoid confusion, the three drew straws to determine who would stay in the meeting to ensure there were enough council members to make a decision. Jackson stayed.

Along with council members Katherine Morgan and Michael Patrick Brennan, he voted to unite two areas in west Oakdale that once were meant to be considered separately for development. By joining them, landowners can work with one specific plan for the whole area, which is less expensive and more efficient than two, said Community Development Director Danelle Stylos.

In addition to homes and parks, the plan calls for 25 acres of commercial development on Crane Road.

Council members, not the real estate market, will decide later how quickly the plans are carried out, Jackson said in reference to the second and more contentious specific plan considered Monday night.

In a 3-2 vote, with Jackson and Dunlop voting no, the council moved to combine another pair of areas on the east side so landowners can work with one East Oakdale Specific Plan, which will include houses, parks, shopping, offices, a trail and a senior care facility.

Jackson and Dunlop thought a 299-acre area should be planned alone, leaving city staff to focus plenty of attention on another area being planned for shopping in east Oakdale.

The rest of the council thought the 299-acre area and another area of 260 acres should be planned together.

"It's too big a chunk to bite off," Jackson said of the combined acreage.

Regardless of the size of the plan, the land will be developed on a pace set by the council, Brennan said.

"I think (the 260-acre area) is crucial to making this whole area work," Morgan said.

Dunlop thought the smaller area, with promises of a variety of housing and at least 55 acres of shops, would detract from another area planned for the east side where council members want to see more shopping opportunities.

Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at 578-2382 or ehightower@modbee.com.