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Galt with 50,000 people in 20 years? It's possible, planner says

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Posted: Monday, December 12, 2005 10:00 pm

Picture a modern-looking Galt with 2,600 upscale homes for people 55 years and older dotted with a golf course and trails leading to Laguna Creek. Add some new stores, restaurants and perhaps some motels dotting the landscape on both sides of Highway 99 from Twin Cities Road and Arno Road. Not to mention some businesses on the west side of the freeway from Twin Cities Road to the Live Oak Avenue.

These are just dreams, but the Galt City Council could end up boosting its population all the way to 50,000 within 20 years. That's assuming an annual growth rate of 3.4 percent, Principal Planner Sandra Kiriu said.

And this proposal, being considered as the city is about to approve a new General Plan, could bring a higher population than that. If the City Council annexes 350 acres so that YCH Communities can build 1,200 homes or more adjacent to the site of Liberty Ranch High School off Marengo and Twin Cities roads.

In a joint meeting that lasted nearly four hours Monday night, the Galt City Council and Planning Commission reviewed an analysis by several consultants on four options for a new land-use plan to guide Galt's growth over the next 20 years.

The report also analyzes several possible areas, such as the YCH property and other land on developers' wish list. That population figure came out as 105,000 for a town that had fewer than 9,000 people in 1990.

Mayor Darryl Clare told the consultants to remove any thought of a 105,000 population because, flat out, it won't happen, he said.

"I predict we'll never see 105,000 in the history of our city," Clare said. "I personally doubt that by 2025 our population will be 44,000."

Yet three land-use options being considered for the General Plan indicate 44,150 people over the next 20 years. The fourth scenario gives a 49,150 figure - the difference being an added 5,000 people living in the proposed Del Webb retirement community on 477 acres north of Twin Cities Road at Christensen Road.

Clare said the city will need to annex and develop at least some land for the city to financially sustain itself. Future development would help finance more police officers and firefighters, needed freeway interchange improvements and sewer plant expansion, Clare said.

The Planning Commission, which will ultimately make a recommendation to the City Council, might choose a preferred General Plan map at a special meeting Jan. 30, Clare said. The City Council may vote that night as well.

What this means to you

The city of Galt is projected to have a population between 45,000 and 50,000 in 2025. It could have more people if some subdivision proposals like the 1,200 homes proposed adjacent to the new high school site is approved by the city. That translates into more than 7,000 new homes. Twin Cities could have enough traffic congestion to warrant widening the northern east-west thoroughfare to six lanes.

That's provided the two bodies are ready to vote. They may just eliminate some options from consideration that night, Clare said.

Clare said he opposed a vote at Monday's joint meeting because the council, Planning Commission and the public need to digest a substantially thick report and wait for some comments from the public. The mayor said he anticipates some e-mails and other correspondence from the community on the city's growth plan.

A majority of council members and commissioners agreed that Galt should attempt to annex as much land as possible, even if the City Council wants little or no development.

Saying that Galt needs some businesses aligning Highway 99, Galt businesswoman Carol Backert said the city should annex land near Highway 99 because Sacramento County officials are likely to approve developments there if Galt doesn't take over the land.

"Either you do it, or the county will at some point," said Backert, a Wilton resident, Galt chamber board member and chairwoman of the Southeast Area Community Planning Advisory Council, an appointed group that makes land-use recommendations concerning rural areas to the county.

Planning Commissioner Lori Heuer said she opposes the Del Webb proposal because the city could be tied up in litigation for years due to environmental issues.

Mike Eaton, director of The Nature Conservancy's Cosumnes River and Delta projects, said the consultants' analysis fails to address how Del Webb and northern expansion on Highway 99 may affect habitat for the sandhill crane and other animals that inhabit the Cosumnes River area.

Copies of the General Plan report are available at the city clerk's office at City Hall and online at http://www.ci.galt.ca.us, then scrolling down and clicking onto the General Plan icon. Comments on the General Plan may be submitted to planning@ci.galt.ca.us.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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