Ken Carlson

Stanislaus general plan directs job creation to cities, addresses water

Anyone who mentions an update to Modesto’s general plan invites the slings and arrows of public opinion.

Not so with an ongoing revision of Stanislaus County’s general plan, or its 20-year blueprint for growth.

The county is revising the general plan to incorporate changes in state law and local standards. In contrast to city planning meetings that inflamed Wood Colony or Salida residents, few people attended the county general plan workshops held in Modesto, Oakdale and Patterson.

The county planning document will extend to 2035, when the county is expected to have a population of 721,600 residents, with 133,800 living in rural areas and unincorporated pockets in cities. That would represent more than a 20 percent increase in the unincorporated population since 2010.

The general plan will continue a policy of directing residential development to the nine cities, which are better equipped to provide urban services.

“The county is not trying to promote more urban development outside of the city limits,” said Angela Freitas, director of county planning and community development.

The update would go further by directing economic development and job centers to cities as well. The county would still have flexibility to promote jobs in unincorporated areas that have a “unique character,” such as the former Crows Landing naval airfield, where business parks are planned near Interstate 5.

The plan also would encourage the county and cities to develop uniform standards for development in “city spheres,” or the growth territories claimed by cities.

In addition, the update would promote a healthier living environment with development standards designed to reduce air and water pollution, encourage active lifestyles, support public transit and alternative transportation, and increase reliable water supplies.

General plan policies would strive to improve water management by coordinating groundwater data collection among water purveyors, private landowners and other resource agencies.

To increase the reliability of groundwater supplies, the general plan calls for cooperation between cities and water districts in preparing a groundwater sustainability plan under state law.

Freitas said the county Board of Supervisors will consider approval of the general plan update Aug. 23.

Permit issue

Dan Avila & Sons has dropped an appeal that challenged two conditions on a land-use permit for a 180,000-square-foot warehouse and other facilities on Washington Road, just west of Turlock’s industrial area. Avila wants to build the warehouse and legalize other facilities at the Washington Road site for receiving, storing, packing and shipping watermelons and sweet potatoes.

The grower moved the operations elsewhere after the county cited Avila for unpermitted construction four years ago.

The county Planning Commission gave approval in June, but Avila appealed conditions that required a concrete median on Washington Road and land dedication for a four-lane expressway. The county imposed the conditions for the city of Turlock.

County officials said Avila has dropped the appeal and is working with Turlock on meeting the conditions.

Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321, @KenCarlson16