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Manteca sets timeline for new park projects

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POSTED December 21, 2012 12:39 a.m.

Parks in new Manteca neighborhoods will now have to be completed once 25 percent of the homes are built.

Developers are also being required to have a funding mechanism in plate to pay for the park’s ongoing upkeep before a building permit can be issued for any homes.

The Manteca City Council approved that policy Tuesday night in a bid to avoid a repeat of problems surrounding the Union Ranch park in north Manteca and the Tesoro Park in south Manteca. In both cases, the same developer failed to move forward with the formation of a landscape maintenance district and park construction in a timely manner. That in turn upset homeowners and created problems that the city had to eventually intervene to fix.

Union Ranch resident Bruce Lownsbery spoke against the new policy as being too lenient on developers.

That’s because a substantial number of homeowners could get stuck without a park but still have LMD fees collected from them if the developer for some reason stops building homes before the 25 percent threshold is reached.

Staff in June suggested requiring the park be constructed and ready to use before the issuance of a permit for the first production home that is not a model home. Other options they floated at the time included requiring the park to be completed before the issuance of any house permit including the model homes. Another was to allow the builder to receive 10 percent of the building permits before the park must be completed.

Developers successfully argued since then that such a requirement would saddle a project with additional costs before a home was even sold In the case of neighborhood parks, the additional cost could run as high as $1 million.

The policy change that makes sure the city doesn’t get a third black eye, is the requirement that landscape maintenance districts be in place prior to the issuance of the first building permit. That means the developer has to set up the LMD and then cast all of their votes - one per lot - to approve the assessment mechanism. The LMD would then be in place before homes enter escrow.

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