The city of Lodi will spend a half-million dollars in its hope to keep urban sprawl in check between Lodi and Stockton.
The City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to appropriate the money to seek rezones along the Armstrong Road corridor to keep the area agricultural while allowing agricultural-related businesses.
Council members and Armstrong Road area residents said they are excited about a compromise they hope ends 15 years of turmoil between people who wanted a greenbelt separating the two cities and property owners who want the freedom to do what they want with their land.
Stockton attorney Steve Herum, representing the Armstrong Road Property Owners Association, said it's a "reasonable accommodation" because it doesn't take away property rights and taxpayers won't have to foot the bill by paying farmers for their land.
Farmer Bruce Fry, who was credited for forging the compromise, said that property owners would rather not call the area a greenbelt. It could end up being a winery row, olive oil row or bed and breakfast row, Fry said.
"I'd like to give a standing ovation to Bruce Fry," Councilwoman Susan Hitchcock said. "That's what life is - a series of compromises. It provides a separator for Lodi."
Councilman Bob Johnson said he is excited about the project, but he voted "no" because the city faced scary economic conditions and had to cut nearly $2 million from its budget Tuesday night.
Mayor JoAnne Mounce said the $500,000 was well spent because it was one expenditure that Lodi residents wanted to see.
Any zoning change will be at the discretion of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, not the Lodi City Council.
City Manager Blair King said that $300,000 of the expense will come from the city selling one or more pieces of property and $200,000 from the streets impact mitigation fee program. King declined to state what property or properties might be up for sale to finance studies for the buffer area.