The Reynolds Ranch plan is headed to the Lodi City Council for approval, after the Lodi Planning Commission deadlocked 3-3 late Wednesday on deciding whether to recommend the plan for council approval.
Commission Chair Randy Heinitz and Commissioners Doug Keuhne and William Cummins voted yes. Commissioners Wendel Kiser, Tim Mattheis and Dennis White voted no. Commissioner Gina Moran was absent from the meeting.
The City Council is scheduled to hear the plan at a special meeting Aug. 30.
Heinitz said he supported the project because of the potential to save existing Blue Shield jobs while eventually adding hundreds of others and creating of a 75-foot-wide agricultural buffer at the south end of the site.
"It's a perfect venue to do that," he said. "It achieves a lot of things."
He said the General Plan crafted over a decade ago, which designates the land as residential reserve, identifies the land as a probable location for housing.
"It's not like we're going outside there and just grabbing a piece of property," Heinitz said.
Mattheis said he had concerns that the project is outside the scope of the General Plan and needed to be better planned since it is close to the proposed greenbelt area.
"All of this area in General Plan reserve has always been to longtime Lodians a little bit sacred," he said. "What goes into that greenbelt buffer area needs to be very well planned and thought through."
The 220-acre Reynolds Ranch project, bordered by Harney Lane to the north, Highway 99 to the east and railroad tracks to the west, would consist of 1,084 homes, a 20-acre campus for Blue Shield of California and acreage for 350,000 square feet of retail space, when completed. The first phase consists of 150 homes and the office campus, which would be completed by 2008. The second and final phase would be completed by 2030.
Mattheis also questioned the need and demand for more retail space.
The project is contingent on Blue Shield being a part, city staff said.
What's the next step?The review of the Reynolds Ranch plan heads to the Lodi City Council for approval at a special meeting Aug. 30, without a recommendation for approval from the Planning Commission.
The council is set to consider:
• certification of the environmental impact report
• approval of a General Plan Amendment
• zone change
• development agreement
Kiser said he couldn't support the project due to the EIR not accounting enough for transportation impacts and negative effects on air quality, which was identified in the environmental report as a consequence of the project.
"I want to make sure we do things the right way. We've got to live with these decisions for a long time after we make them," he said.
Both Kiser and Mattheis said they supported keeping Blue Shield's jobs, but not in the proposed project.
The company is seeking a freeway adjacent location and was unable to reach agreement on other properties in Lodi and near Stockton.
Kiser questioned whether the project would affect expansion at White Slough. City Engineer Wally Sandelin said the fees the developer is paying will cover the cost of serving the development.
The project includes a development agreement between the city and developer San Joaquin County Land Co. that exchanges exclusion from future growth moratoriums and some impact fees for rehabilitation of Eastside homes, a community facilities district and a downtown impact fee on retail uses.
Kathi Lucke, Blue Shield's vice president of finance, said the company will be in need of a new location soon after its lease expires in 2007 on two buildings on Guild Avenue. Additionally, the health-care firm seeks a property close to Lodi, as well as retail services, because many of its workers live in Lodi and as many as 80 percent are working mothers, she said. Moving to a location without basic retail services, such as in an industrial area, could disrupt the working mothers' access to childcare, she said.
Lucke said the company is not currently looking at other sites.
First published: Friday, August 11, 2006