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Could be part of greenbelt breaking up urban growth

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A Ripon family uses the bicycle bridge across the Stanislaus River. Ripon leaders envision one day being able to pedal from the bridge crossing the Stanislaus to River Islands in Lathrop, a distanc...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED January 24, 2013 1:15 a.m.

Ripon and Manteca civic leaders don’t want the two cities to ultimately mesh together as if it was one endless stream of urban development.

They also have expressed a desire for travelers along Highway 99 not to see wall-to-wall development as they travel south of the 120 Bypass to the Stanislaus River.

It is one reason the Ripon City Council is lobbying federal officials this spring for $1.3 million to go toward a proposed 13-mile bikeway to connect Ripon, Manteca and Lathrop. They are making the pitch during the annual San Joaquin County One Voice trip to the nation’s capital.

The bikeway – at least between Manteca and Ripon – would serve three purposes. It would allow people to use bicycles to reach employment centers in Ripon or Manteca as well as other venues. It could also be utilized for recreation. In addition, it would be the backbone of a greenbelt.

It would connect with Manteca’s extensive separated bikeway system as well as Ripon’s designated bikeway system. Ultimately you could travel from Stanislaus County across the Ripon bicycle bridge to River Islands in Lathrop.

City leaders in discussions several years ago discussed having a 100-foot wide greenbelt swath along the western side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks between Austin Road and Jack Tone Road. Such a greenbelt could be planted as almond trees. That would do two things: First, it would have a greenbelt that actually produces marketable food crops;  and it would also provide a visual cushion between development plans that so far includes the 1,050-acre Austin Road Business Park.

Plans approved by the Manteca City Council for the largest development ever envisioned in the Ripon-Manteca area include:

•3.5 million square feet of general commercial, or about 26 times the square footage of the Manteca Costco store.

•At least 2,358 traditional single-family homes and 1,840 multi-family dwelling units such as townhouses, apartments, and condos  that can accommodate up to 10,200 people or just under a seventh of the city’s existing population.

•8 million square feet of industrial/business park, and office use or space equal to 17 times the coverage area of the Ford Motor Parts distribution center on Spreckels Avenue,

•A 5,000-seat amphitheater plus Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau events center.

•The potential to create up to 13,000 jobs – or close to 50 percent of the existing jobs in the city – with between 3,000 and 6,000 jobs coming from the industrial and business park portion and up to 13,000 jobs from possible retail uses.

•Five parks with just over 49 acres compared to the nearby 52-acre Woodward Community Park.

•The potential for school-age children who will live in homes that are within the Manteca city limits to attend school at Ripon Unified School District campuses. Some 849 acres of the project are in the boundaries of the Ripon Unified School District, while 202 acres are within Manteca Unified School District boundaries.

•Eighty-four acres that are zoned for mixed commercial and retail uses which means it could involve condos above stores or large condo, apartment, or townhouse projects interwoven with commercial uses.

•Zoning for up to 1,840 units of apartments or other high residential uses including 828 units possible in the mixed commercial zoning depending up how that ends up panning put. That’s about 1,500 less than all existing apartments now in place in Manteca.

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