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2050 Boundary Map Discussion Tabled
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Discussion at the Oakdale City Council was heated on Monday night, Oct. 17 during a review of the proposed 2050 agricultural preservation map. The map is a countywide effort to prepare a growth plan through the year 2050 to present to the Local Agency Formation Committee by December. The map will potentially serve as a guideline for a ballot initiative taken to voters some time next year.
Council members questioned why the map was being drawn and why it had to be done so quickly. At a December 2010 meeting, LAFCO decided to ask the Mayors Group to present a countywide 2050 agricultural preservation map. The Mayor or City Planner for each city presented a draft map, which were compiled to make a draft county map. That map was presented to LAFCO at the July 27 Mayors meeting.
“Originally I drew a line that went all the way to county lines. I was trying to make it as big as possible to be provocative,” said Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul.
And her plan worked, as the Oakdale draft map certainly started conversations on the need for a county mitigation map. Eventually the Oakdale boundary was pared down to a line that reaches south to Alvarado Road, north across the river, and includes a large area of land southeast of Oakdale. Danelle Stylos, Director of Planning for the City of Oakdale, said that the current proposed line is 6,000 acres larger than the most recent General Plan line.
“I’m pretty confident that in 100 years you won’t reach it,” Stylos said.
Oakdale’s growth and development is limited by the General Plan, which is updated every 20 years. Even with an agricultural mitigation map in place, the city would still be limited in growth by its General Plan boundaries.
“Why can’t LAFCO just take the general plan and accept that,” asked council member Katherine Morgan.
Several cities in Stanislaus County have opted to stick to their general plan boundaries, rather than draw new lines for an agricultural preservation map. General Plans normally account for agricultural buffers and have some mitigation strategies built in. Council member Tom Dunlop questioned why this map would be completed by December with just a vote from the council when the General Plan update cost the city thousands of dollars and two years of planning.
The agricultural preservation 2050 map of Oakdale was presented to the Oakdale Planning Commission at its Sept. 21 meeting. Commissioners drew a new line on the map to substantially cut the amount of current farmland that would be included in the map. Both versions of the map were presented to council.
“Very few citizens know about (this map.) I think they should have the chance to speak out about it,” said council member Michael Brennan.
Several members of the audience also spoke up to urge council not to adopt any new city boundary lines. The General Plan update has taken several years of public meetings and community input and come up with a growth plan that the city is comfortable with. Brennan questioned why LAFCO has not approached individual cities with this requested map, and why communities were not given more time to get public approval of the agricultural preservation 2050 map.
“To heck with them, they can come over here and talk with us,” Brennan said.
Council decided to table discussion of the Agricultural Preservation 2050 map indefinitely. Other cities in the county, including Hughson and Turlock, have decided to stick to their General Plan growth boundaries. Patterson City Council declined to refer the map to its planning commission. Several council members pointed out that the whole plan might be null and void if one or more cities refuse to participate.
“I’m fine just tabling it,” said Dunlop.