Citing that it’s better to plan for a city’s growth that would be bound to happen anyway, the Oakdale City Council approved two long-term specific projects that call for residential, commercial, and retail developments on the city’s edges.
The Monday, March 3 meeting was packed with concerned residents affected by the Crane Crossing and Sierra Pointe projects contained within the city’s general plan.
The plan calls for 262 acres off West F Street/Highway 108 along the west portion and 297 acres on East F Street/Highway 120 on the city’s east side to be eventually developed to shopping centers, commercial and high, medium, and low density housing. Portions of the unincorporated areas in the vicinity would be annexed.
An environmental impact report adopted in 2013 showed no less than 10 negative significant impacts, such as traffic congestion, noise, and loss of groundwater recharging.
Presenters advised the council that there was a sufficient water supply to serve the proposed development and new wells would be installed in each of the developments.
“The EIR makes it quite clear this is a bad decision,” said resident Brian Six. “I moved to Oakdale because it was a quiet town. How ludicrous this is to rip up prime ag land and put in more houses.”
Six went on to tell the council he felt the city needed more industry over any retail developments.
“Just because you have recommendations, doesn’t mean you have to act on it,” said Tom Boster. “How can you have significant unavoidable impacts and still act by doing it? It’s not a good idea.”
Kent Higgins asked the council, which had been whittled to just three due to Councilmen Tom Dunlop and Farrell Jackson having to recuse themselves due to conflict, if rather than just three people deciding the fate, if the matter could be put up to voters in November.
City Attorney Doug White advised that the council could put anything on the ballot.
When it came time for the council to discuss the matter, Councilman Mike Brennan reminded the crowd that he was pro no-growth and reminisced what the city was like as “a self-contained town” during the ‘50s and ‘60s.
“Better to plan for growth because you can’t stop it,” Brennan said. “It’s like Whac-a-Mole; stop it in one place and it’ll pop up somewhere else.”
Brennan also said that he didn’t agree with the high-density residential housing portion of the plan stating that if it wasn’t watched they deteriorate into “mini-ghettos.”
After the vote passed 3-0, Dunlop and Jackson were brought back onto the dais to discuss the Sierra Pointe agenda item that contained much of the same data.
Jackson questioned the study which cost $400,000 to prepare.
“I have to ask,” said Jackson, “If we don’t have the money why are we going forward with this?”
City Manager Bryan Whitemyer explained that when he assumed the role last year he asked the same thing but learned the funds for the study were 95 percent spent and it was best to go forward and complete the report.
Jackson also said it appeared that land owners and developers that benefitted from the project were getting a “free ride.”
“We have to deal with what was inherited,” said White. “In the future we will be asking for money up front.”
Other council members told that they had been misled by previous city staff members who were no longer with the city.
At the three-hour mark of the meeting, the council voted 5-0 to proceed with the Sierra Pointe project of the General Plan.
“This is not something that will happen overnight,” said Mayor Pat Paul. “This is a long, long process to go to 2030.”