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COUNCIL WATCH

Tuesday, the Modesto City Council:

Gave the green light to a plan calling for an eight-story office and condominium tower at 14th and J streets. Attorneys Bart Barringer and Jim Mayol want to demolish their one-story law office to clear land for the housing project. City officials have praised the proposal, seeing an opportunity to bring housing downtown for the first time since the 1970s.

Vote: Unanimous; Brad Hawn abstained because of a business conflict

Cleared Habitat for Humanity's proposal to build 20 homes on a 1.8-acre lot on Houser Lane in west Modesto.

Vote: Unanimous

Adjusted plans for Eastgate Center, a commercial area at Oakdale Road and Briggsmore Avenue, to allow for retail shops instead of offices. The site has taken off with a popular pizza restaurant. Residents and a nearby surgical hospital have complained about parking shortages since the restaurant's opening. The council required the developer to place a barrier between the center and the hospital.

Vote: Ayes -- Jim Ridenour,

Brad Hawn, Garrad Marsh,

Kristin Olsen;

Nays -- Bob Dunbar, Janice Keating, Will O'Bryant

Hired Davis-based West Yost Associates with a $381,900 contract to update Modesto's water rate and connection fees. Modesto set its water rates in 2004 to pay for a Modesto Irrigation District treatment plant. The city's methods were flawed. The MID plant's price tag is $77 million, about $40 million more than the city expected when it set the rates. Those factors, along with another potentially costly water project, have the city reviewing its rates.

Vote: Ayes -- Ridenour, Hawn, Marsh, Olsen, Keating, Dunbar;

Nay -- O'Bryant

Accepted $841,000 in drug enforcement grants from state and federal sources.

Vote: Unanimous

Hired an outside attorney to review proposed ballot language for a February measure designed to increase accountability at City Hall. Attorney Richard Rudnansky is expected to give a report Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the council chamber.

Vote: Unanimous

In addition, the council discussed several items in closed session that did not require votes. They were:

Recruiting someone to replace

City Clerk Jean Morris, who plans to resign Dec. 12.

Receiving an update on a lawsuit filed by a deaf man who claims police used excessive force against him.

-- Adam Ashton

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