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SJ County growth topic of workshop set for tonight

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POSTED August 12, 2009 2:47 a.m.
Farmland preservation – as well as growth-related issues for the next 20 years – is the subject of a workshop tonight at Woodward School.

It is designed as a chance to give Manteca area residents input into the formation of a general plan update for San Joaquin County. It is designed as a blueprint to guide countywide growth through 2030.

The workshop is being conducted by the San Joaquin County Community Development Department. It starts at 7 p.m. in the Woodward School multipurpose room, 575 Tannenhill Drive.

A workshop Monday in Ripon was attended by only four non-county staff members. A workshop is also planned this Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Escalon Library, 1540 Second St., in Escalon. The other area workshop takes place Thursday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. at Lathrop City Hall, 390 Towne Centre Drive.

The general plan is also a component that ultimately shapes spheres of influencnes which represent areas for established cities to grow in the future. Keeping growth contiguous to cities is one way many communities control sprawl and protect farming.

The general plan process is what brought about the minimum zoning that ranges from 10 to 80 acre throughout rural parts of the county to protect farming. Theoretically, the process could be used to undo such protection although there has been no pressure exerted politically to do so far.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget move to essentially zero out funding for the Williamson Act – a 10 year contract that protects farmland by substantially lowering property assessment exchange for land being protected from development for at least 10 years - could change the political landscape in that aspect.

The current general plan was adopted in 1992. It has ben used as a guideline for growth as the county’s population increased to roughly 680,000 residents today. The updated general plan is projecting over a million San Joaquin County residents by 2030.

Among the input the workshop will seek from the public include:

•Where should development occur?

•How should Manteca and other communities grow or be preserved?

•What sectors of the economy should we grow?

•What are the county’s infrastructure needs and standards?

•How can transportation and movement throughout the county be improved?

•How can the county promote healthy communities and residents?

•What is the county’s role in the long-term success of the agricultural industry?

•How does the county protect and manage water and open space resources?

•Can the county make a constructive difference to address climate change?

For more information contact senior planner Ray Hoo of the San Joaquin County Development Department by e-mailing rhoo@sjgov.org or call 468-3164.
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