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[December 06, 2012]
Beard Industrial District's sewer pact with Modesto to continue
MODESTO, Dec 06, 2012 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A unique sewer deal between Modesto and the Beard Industrial District ain't exactly broke, so leaders on Wednesday refused to fix it.
The city has provided sewer services to the important business tract for 46 years even though it's outside the city limit. Normal annexation theory suggests they ought to clear that up someday, but both sides said it would be smarter to keep a good thing going.
"It makes sense (to require conformity), but that doesn't work in every situation," said Bill O'Brien, representing Stanislaus County on the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission.
The 2,200-acre tract employs thousands of people in more than 30 warehouses and hopes to continue attracting companies -- and jobs -- to its 400 vacant acres.
So Beard and the city asked LAFCo to change a policy requiring that companies new to the tract sign away their ability to protest eventual annexation. The policy also applies to companies changing some business operations, said John Anderson of JB Anderson Land Use Planning, representing Beard.
The policy could scare away opportunities for "real jobs," Anderson said.
Brent Sinclair, the city's economic development director, acknowledged an "adversarial relationship" with Beard in the past but said they've been cooperating well lately.
"Since there are two consenting parties ... I don't see a problem making an exemption," said Vito Chiesa, a LAFCo alternate.
All voting members -- Charlie Goeken of Waterford, Amy Bublak of Turlock, the county's Jim DeMartini and O'Brien and public representative Tia Saletta -- agreed.
"The Beard industrial tract has been there for 100 years," DeMartini said. He would not give special treatment to a neighborhood of homes, but said, "We probably should exempt this industrial tract." LAFCo commissioners also approved Ceres supplying water to the future Beaver Elementary School, which is outside city limits on Central Avenue, north of Grayson Road.
"You're going out there because the land's cheaper," DeMartini said, scolding Ceres Unified School District officials. "Having to stick (a campus) out in the country is poor planning." Assistant Superintendent Jay Simmonds said the district tries to place new schools in the path of anticipated growth. "We'll be there when the houses come," he said.
Commissioners unanimously approved the request.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2390.
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