Galt could look a lot different in the next 20 to 50 years, especially on what is now farm land with crops, horses and cows.
A Wal-Mart Supercenter could dominate the landscape east of Highway 99 between Boessow and Simmerhorn roads. Hundreds of homes could end up behind the Supercenter.
The north end of town may be dominated by a movie theater complex, upscale restaurants, large stores and 400 homes draping Highway 99.
An upscale retirement community with 2,600 homes with a golf course could dot the landscape on Twin Cities Road west of Highway 99.
And, the city's northeast corner could be home to a 1,200-unit subdivision surrounding a new high school. With at least two other developers casting eagle eyes on Galt's eastern boundary, more than 3,000 homes could end up there.
The idea for what could be a greatly expanded city makes some residents nervous. Galt has already transitioned from a small farm town of 7,500 in 1988 and about 15,000 in 1995 to a suburban city now of about 23,000.
And thirsty developers want to dot the landscape with as many as 6,000 homes.
"That's called sprawl," Gail Hall, who owns five acres on Cherokee Lane, told the City Council earlier this month. "This affects our neighbors and our rural setting."
City leaders say they will try to balance the city's economic needs with the desire to maintain Galt's small-town charm.
Six potential developers who own nearly 2,500 acres among them outside the city limits will jointly finance a city-commissioned study on how each of the development proposals would affect traffic, water, sewer, schools and the environment.
"Traffic will be horrendous," City Councilman Tim Raboy said. "If people are concerned about traffic on flea market day, you're going to have that every day everywhere in the city."
Galt's business area is known for its bumper-to-bumper congestion each Tuesday and Wednesday, when the Galt Market on Caroline and Chabolla avenues are open. Traffic is so bad that residents avoid shopping in the area on those days, and they use alternate routes to Highway 99 and other parts of town.
In addition to traffic, some residents are concerned about how to fit children from that housing growth in their schools.
While still others are alarmed about what developers want to do in Galt, Mayor Darryl Clare maintains that the council isn't likely to approve all the subdivisions that developers want to build. However, a majority of its members want to study all developments that are on the table, officially or unofficially.
Five subdivisions on the table
At least five major subdivisions are proposed by potential developers, though only one of them -- Del Webb -- has submitted a formal application to the city Planning Department. And all of them are outside the city limits.
Raboy, a staunch slow-growth advocate who has served on the council since 1999, thinks Galt could end up with more than 6,000 homes because Del Webb is understating its desires. Del Webb's file with the city says 2,600 homes, but Raboy expects it to be amended to a larger number of units.
• A hotel, movie theaters, restaurants, retail businesses, medical and professional offices and 400 homes on 166 acres east of Highway 99 to McKenzie Road between Twin Cities and Mingo roads. The developer is Capitol Realtors from Elk Grove.
• An upscale Del Webb complex restricted to residents 55 years and older west of Galt's wastewater treatment plant on Twin Cities Road, 1 1/2 miles west of Highway 99. Features include 2,600 homes, businesses, walking trails toward Laguna Creek to the north and possibly a golf course on 887 acres.
• Liberty Ranch, a 1,200 to 1,300-home subdivision on about 350 acres south of Twin Cities Road between Marengo Road and Cherokee Lane.
• Meritage Homes, which proposes about 1,000 homes on 279 acres south of YCH. Just south of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, the subdivision would extend south almost to Simmerhorn Road and from Cherokee Lane west to a point between Cherokee and Marengo Road.
• Pacific Union Homes, which owns about 305 acres east of Crystal Way to Marengo Road and between Boessow and Simmerhorn roads. It would be located just east of a Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed northeast of the Central Galt exit off Highway 99. Number of homes projected has not been disclosed.
-- News-Sentinel staff.
Del Webb is proposed on 887 acres about 1 1/2 miles west of Highway 99 on Twin Cities Road opposite Christensen Road. Developers there have become active in the Galt District Chamber of Commerce and pledged to help finance upgrades to the sewer plant next door to its property and to Twin Cities Road and the Highway 99 interchange at Twin Cities.
Two other subdivisions adding a combined 2,200-plus homes are proposed on farm land between Marengo Road and Cherokee Lane. And an undisclosed number of homes by Pacific Union Homes are proposed east of Highway 99 between Simmerhorn and Boessow roads.
Galt planners can't pin a number on what Pacific Union Homes wants to build east of the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter northeast of the Central Galt exit, said Principal Planner Sandra Kiriu.
And, Pete Gibson, Pacific Union's assistant project manager who has attended at least two Galt City Council meetings, said he isn't allowed to provide that information, deferring to superiors within the company.
"Isn't that interesting what these out-of-towners want do in our community?" Raboy asked. He would rather see twoand five-acre ranchettes because they produce few additional students in the schools and little additional traffic.
Clare staunchly supports annexing the Highway 99 corridor between Twin Cities and Arno roads to bring property tax and sales tax revenue into the city.
"I think it's the financial future of our city," he said. "We couldn't financially sustain ourselves" if Galt doesn't expand its city limits.
Another property owner, Allied Developers, also known as Twin Cities Partners, owns 438 acres on the west side of Highway 99. Although the partnership is contributing to the cost of the traffic/water study with five other developers, Mark Vespoli of Allied Developers said he doesn't have any development in mind.
Twin Cities Partners owns 438 acres along the western Highway 99 corridor between Twin Cities Road almost to Arno Road and west along Twin Cities to the city sewer plant opposite Midway Road.
Vespoli said his partnership, who has owned the property since 1987, may develop the land if it is ever annexed into the Galt city limits.
While he supports commercial and industrial development north of Twin Cities Road, Clare opposes adding homes there. He also questions whether subdivisions in eastern Galt will ever get the green light.
What might actually be approved
What developers have in mind and what the City Council actually authorizes appear to be two different things.
Like Raboy, Clare sees Del Webb as a legitimate applicant because it wouldn't produce children to crowd Galt schools. He will also give YCH significant consideration because of its promise to help finance the new high school off Twin Cities and Marengo roads.
YCH has offered to pay from $4 million to $6 million to help build a new high school near its subdivision. The Galt Joint Union High School District would also benefit from an undetermined amount of infrastructure, such as sewer expansion, that would also benefit the YCH subdivision. YCH would also provide money toward a new elementary school.
The money for the new elementary and high school would be financed through a fee to be assessed on homebuyers within the subdivision, to be called Liberty Ranch.
Meritage and Pacific Union are another story, Clare said, because the proposed homes and the children that come with them won't alleviate school congestion.
Clare projects that students generated from the YCH subdivision, plus ranchettes that Sacramento County approves in rural areas would fill the new high school planned at Marengo and Twin Cities roads. Clare added that he isn't likely to support Meritage and Pacific Union, he said, because a third high school would be required to serve those developments.
Before making any decisions about Galt's ultimate boundaries and how many new homes will dot the landscape, the city's General Plan consultant will study in detail how these residential and commercial developments would affect all aspects of life in Galt if they're built.
The study will include traffic, water, sewer, schools, environmental issues and requirements by Sacramento County's Local Agency Formation Commission, which makes decisions on boundary changes. The study will also investigate the feasibility of doubling the city's sewer capacity to 6 million gallons per day.
Six potential developers have pledged to share the $152,000 cost of the study. However, the city's contract with the developers stipulates that the developers' investment does not guarantee City Council approval of their projects.
"Why study it if you're not looking to approve it?" Raboy asked. "That's why the majority pro-growth voting block are considering it."
Raboy labels Clare, Vice Mayor Randy Shelton and Council members Tom Malson and Barbara Payne as the pro-growth voting block.
Clare and Darren Suen, land acquisition manager for Meritage Homes, said there is no cause for alarm because construction of any subdivisions the City Council may approve will be spread out over several years.
"That's often a common perception -- 'Oh my God. It's all happening at once.'" Suen said. "We're not going to bombard the city with everything all at once. It would happen over a 10-year period."
A pro-growth advocate
Elk Grove Realtor Gyan Kalwani isn't bashful when he says he wants a lot of new homes. He owns 145 acres east of Highway 99 to McKenzie Road between Twin Cities and Mingo roads.
Kalwani said he wants every subdivision -- 5,000 homes or more -- approved by the city. That's so he can build a miniature version of a Hilton hotel within the next five years. He also envisions a movie theater with six to eight screens, nice restaurants, a small outpatient medical clinic and professional offices within 10 years.
"Galt has a great chance right now to do things right," Kalwani said. "Galt has no tax base. They need some commercial property. Why not keep all the (tax) money in Galt so we can hire additional police protection?"
Galt needs to develop Twin Cities Road on both sides of Highway 99, Kalwani said.
"It's the only road in the area connecting Highway 99 with I-5. We need to take advantage of that."
LAFCO representatives will discuss its potential requirements for the city of Galt to annex and develop land north of Twin Cities Road at a special Galt City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 380 Civic Dr.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.
This story was updated at 3:20 p.m. April 25, 2005, to correct the amount of money YCH has offered to help build a new high school.