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Too many trucking firms in Lathrop?

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POSTED January 8, 2009 1:24 a.m.

LATHROP — Will one more trucking company make Lathrop “Truck Town”?

Lathrop Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal thinks so. Which is why he staunchly stood his ground during a discussion before the City Council Tuesday night that Lathrop does not need more trucks plying its already busy traffic corridors.

It’s not just about traffic; it’s also a quality of life issue, he said.

While the discussion focused on the company, Gordon Trucking Inc., which is interested in constructing a new logistics center on Harlan Road near the Ghirardelli Chocolate factory north of Lathrop Road, and the increase in truck activity it would bring to the city, at the core of it all was the issue of sewer capacity. Before Gordon Trucking can start construction, it needs to secure wastewater capacity for the development.

Which brought about Dhaliwal’s other major concern. The company is requesting to purchase 15 ISUs (interceptor service units) or the equivalent of 3,900 gallons per day (based on 260 gallons per day of treatment capacity) that is owned by the city.

“If I can use 15 ISUs to bring two Country Kitchen (restaurants) to the city, why should I give (that sewer capacity) to someone like Gordon Trucking?” Dhaliwal asked during the contentious discussion which had some residents questioning if city leaders were really interested in bringing in new business to town.

Dhaliwal’s concern was based on the limited number of sewer capacity that the city currently owns and could sell to potential developers. Since the city owns only 119 ISUs, Dhaliwal believes that this capacity should be awarded to projects that will be most beneficial to the city in terms of generating new jobs and revenue.

“I have to do what’s best for the city. We’re turning into a Truck Town,” Dhaliwal said.

Norman Timmermans, Gordon Trucking’s director of terminal development, and project architect Steven Snyder, provided some of the information that the council members wanted to know further about the company such as the number of new jobs they expect to generate.

Timmermans said he expects about half of their Modesto terminal’s total employees of 125 to work at the Lathrop facility.

J. “Chaka” Santos, one of those who spoke in support of the trucking company, urged Dhaliwal to reconsider his position saying the city needs to be business-friendly.

“This guy is making an honest effort to bring in new business and jobs to Lathrop. Mr. Dhaliwal, please reconsider your thinking. We need to do something here,” said Santos who is an entrepreneur and a businessman.

Dhaliwal responded by saying, We got to do what’s best for the city. I’m not going to give ISU to somebody who’s going to bring us more trucks and more fumes,” he said.

Resident Rosalinda Valencia agreed with Santos but added that the trucking company should also “bring a proposal showing how many jobs” they will bring to the city and also “fix” Harlan Road.

“Let’s see what proposal they’ll bring to us,” she said.

The council agreed to continue the discussion on the issue of selling sewer capacity to the trucking company at an indefinite future date to give staff more time to obtain more details about the proposed business.

Interim City Manager Cary Keaten said that by that time, staff will have “a better idea of the employment issues” as well as what other impacts, fiscal and otherwise, it will have in the community.

Lathrop is already home to Swift Trucking,  Joe’s Travel Plaza and other businesses particularly in the Crossroads Commerce Center which generateplenty of truck traffic in town.

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