One of the biggest issues facing the Galt City Council next week as it chooses how much the city should grow stems from sensitive animal habitat areas north of Twin Cities Road.
City Council members Barbara Payne and Tom Malson met with representatives from five environmental organizations earlier this week in an attempt to iron out differences between a majority of the City Council and environmentalists who oppose growth north of the current Galt city limits. Under the proposed General Plan, the population could double.
"I expected sparks, to be honest with you, and we got just the opposite," Malson said Thursday. "It was a very good, productive meeting."
Monday's meeting with environmentalists was a major step in preparing for Tuesday's City Council meeting. At that time, the council is scheduled to choose where it wants to expand the city's boundaries.
Two possible annexations that have environmentalists' eyes bulging are the 887-acre Del Webb senior development proposal northwest of the city limits, and adding stores and industry along Highway 99 north of Twin Cities Road.
The Del Webb project would add 2,600 homes and about 5,000 new residents north of Twin Cities Road at Christensen Road.
"(Environmentalists) are very protective about the land where the Del Webb project would go," Payne said.
They say the homes would harm wildlife such as the Swainson's hawk, giant garter snake and sandhill crane, according to Friends of the Swainson's Hawk.
Development north of Twin Cities and Christensen roads would also affect open space and agriculture preservation, air quality and congestion on Highway 99, according to the group.
"We hope city will leave most important habitat areas outside its boundaries," said Judith Lamare, president of Friends of the Swainson's Hawk, who participated in Monday's talk at Galt City Hall..
Also participating in Monday's meeting were City Manager Ted Anderson, Community Development Director Curt Campion, Principal City Planner Sandra Kiriu and representatives from the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and Save Our Sandhill Cranes and the Sacramento Audubon Society.
What this means to you
Talks between the city of Galt and environmental groups could have a major effect on the city's future residential and commercial growth. Environmentalists fear that Galt's existing 23,000 residents may see animals such as the sandhill crane and Swainson's hawk north of the city shoved out of its natural habitat along Laguna Creek and the Cosumnes River if the city was to grow north.
Malson and Payne said that the talks were cordial, but environmentalists wouldn't budge at their opposition to the Del Webb development because of its proximity to Galt's sewer plant and to animal habitat along Laguna Creek, which would at the north end of the Del Webb development.
However, the discussions regarding commercial development along Highway 99 indicated there was room for compromise.
While Galt Mayor Darryl Clare previously advocated expanding Galt's boundaries along Highway 99 north of Twin Cities Road to Arno Road, environmentalists weren't adverse to some businesses at least to Mingo Road or Skunk Creek, about a mile north of Twin Cities Road. Arno Road is about a mile and a half north of Mingo Road.
"We actually agreed with more than we disagreed on," Malson said. "They could understand our need for some growth on the north side of Twin Cities. I think that can be worked out."
Tuesday's Galt City Council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 380 Civic Dr.