Our Views: Now everyone wants to protect Wood Colony

Visitors take a ride in a covered wagon during an orchard tour at the Wood Colony Country Fair & Colony Tour in Modesto on Saturday.
Visitors take a ride in a covered wagon during an orchard tour at the Wood Colony Country Fair & Colony Tour in Modesto on Saturday. aalfaro@modbee.com

Wood Colony is back in the news. Wednesday, Stamp Out Sprawl turned in more than 10,500 signatures on petitions to direct Modesto’s expansion to the east and make certain most everything else is off limits without a vote of residents. If enough signatures are verified, voters can decide in November 2015.

We’re fairly certain that many of those who signed the petition were riled up by the city’s plan to annex portions of Wood Colony, which is just west of Highway 99. If approved by voters, the SOS initiative will protect Wood Colony from development – and a whole lot more.

This all started in January when the city proposed – without asking the folks who lived there – that large chunks of Wood Colony be put in Modesto’s general plan so big-box warehouses could be built there. Overnight, residents coalesced and began writing dozens of letters to the editor then started a recall effort for two Modesto City Council members.

Turns out, such protection might not be necessary. Two weeks ago, Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh proposed that Modesto and Stanislaus County agree to forswear any development in Wood Colony – which many developers still consider a prime location. Seemed like a slick move, pushing the onus onto the county. The county, in the person of CEO Stan Risen, responded this week: “We don’t play games with land-use policy,” he said. If this was a bluff by Marsh, consider it called.

Taking care of homeless in Turlock

If you’re in the mood to visit a yard sale, you might check out the one sponsored by We Care Turlock. It’s going on today and tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 219 S. Broadway. We Care is raising money for its cold-weather shelter, which will open Nov. 8. Last year, the shelter’s 13th, We Care sheltered 44 homeless people a night and served 7,000 meals. If you aren’t in the mood to do any yard-saling, you can still donate. Find out how by sending an email to info@wecareturlock.org.

All’s well that ends ... with water

We’re convinced the water table is dropping in Stanislaus County, but you can’t blame that for every well that goes dry. A few weeks ago, it was reported that one of the two wells serving Crows Landing had gone dry. Most people figured it was more evidence of overpumping. After all, wells in Valley Home, Hughson, Denair and elsewhere were dry. Turns out this was a case of a bad casing – corroded, actually. Once replaced (for roughly $30,000), the water started flowing again.

Tuolumne goes wild in San Francisco

The officially wild part of the Tuolumne River has nothing to do with San Francisco, but that won’t stop the Tuolumne River Trust from celebrating the 30th anniversary of the river’s Wild & Scenic designation in the City by the Bay on Thusrday night. San Francisco gets its water out of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. The protected portion of the river runs from beneath Hetch Hetchy’s O’Shaughnessy Dam to Don Pedro Reservoir. Festivities are at Scott’s Seafood Pavilion in Oakland (which gets its water from the Mokelumne River). Tickets ($50) can be found at www.tuolumne.org. The Trust’s former director recently said he believes 60 percent of the river should flow unimpeded to the Bay. Wonder if anyone at the party will suggest San Francisco should do with less water – or is it just Stanislaus County that should sacrifice?