Even though the Galt City Council was only approving a letter to be sent to an attorney Tuesday night, a twohour debate ensued about the merits of Delta Greens, an upscale senior housing community.
The council voted 3 to 2 to provide a letter to the landowner's attorney stating that the city will work with a developer to begin the process of creating a preannexation agreement. Mayor Randy Shelton and council members Darryl Clare and Barbara Payne voted to send the letter.
"This project will not go away," councilman Andrew Meredith said. "I was still in high school when this was first proposed. Now three kids later and on my second house, this project is never going to happen."
Originally, the Delta Greens project was proposed as a 2,700-home upscale senior retirement community on Twin Cities Road. The developer for that project, Del Webb, backed out. There is currently no developer selected.
Landowner Chum Mei Dodge and consultant for the project, Jerry Slinkard, requested the city provide a letter saying they are in favor starting the process toward a pre-annexation agreement if plans are submitted. They will use the letter when trying to find a developer. The city would still have to approve the pre-annexation agreement at a later date.
Assistant City Manager Jason Behrmann said it is common to have pre-annexation agreements with large developments. The pre-annexation agreement will detail what the developer is required to pay for and how the process will go to analyze the site, said city attorney Steve Rudolph. The city will ask for all the fees up front to prevent any problems with collection, he said.
"It is not a pre-approval in any sense of the word," Rudolph said. "It does not mean it will be annexed, and it does not commit the council to approve any aspect of the project." Clare said before public comment that the council and public should keep in mind this is in no way endorsing any type of project to go ahead.
In other action
- The Galt City Council selected three projects to try and add to the federal appropriations list. The No. 1 request will be $4 million for the wastewater treatment plant. Next is $1 million for the treatment of arsenic in groundwater and then $3 million for the central Galt interchange project.
- The council verbally agreed to Mayor Randy Shelton re-establishing the Public Safety Advisory Committee. It would allow members of the public to bring forward concerns about safety, lighting or traffic. It also will be a way for the city to figure out accommodations for special events.
- The council also verbally agreed to re-establish what for now
is being called the developer/builder/business/staff/council
committee. It would answer questions from citizens and developers
about development issues in the community. Councilman Donald Haines
said he supports it but recommends the council come up with a
"We always want to debate the project, before we know what the project is," he said.
Clare said he supports sending the letter because the project shouldn't be treated differently than any other development.
Councilman Donald Haines said he would not support sending the letter because he does not believe there should be development that close to the wastewater treatment plant.
"To support this letter, it would suggest to someone that I would consider putting the project in this location," he said.
Meredith echoed Haines' sentiment saying he did not want to give "false hope" to developers.
Meredith also gave a presentation on San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission's indication in the past that they would not approve the project. LAFCO, as well as several other area agencies, would have to approve the project before it could move forward.
Slinkard said he met with representatives of LAFCO and they had a positive reaction to the proposal and offered to set up a meeting between the city once a developer is selected.
After Slinkard spoke, citizen Richard Walters said his main concern is the city will box in the wastewater treatment plant, and he does not think LAFCO will approve the project.
"The county had no plans to expand services to the retirement community," he said. "Why would they all of a sudden have changed? We don't know if what (Slinkard) said is true at all."
Not only had the discussion on Delta Greens carried over from the previous meeting, but so did thoughts on how the public and council members were treated. During the last meeting in December, Slinkard made a presentation on what the landowner would like to see at that location.
During Meredith's presentation Tuesday, he mentioned Shelton not giving him or Haines enough time to express their thoughts or ask questions of the presenter, Slinkard, during the last meeting.
Quoting from an article from The Galt Herald, citizen Dan Jimenez told Shelton he did not live up to his promise of respect for all council members and the public when he interrupted Haines' statement.
"You lost control and started yelling out of order and cut him off … the biggest accomplishment you've managed so far is to divide the council further than it has ever been," he said.
Shelton did not respond to these concerns at the meeting.
Later, Clare was discussing another item on the agenda and did mention that this meeting went more smoothly.
"We got through Delta Greens cooperatively and very respectfully tonight," he said.
Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at firstname.lastname@example.org.