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More study for land swap

Trustees postpone school site switch vote

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POSTED October 9, 2013 11:53 p.m.

Tesoro 8 plus Union Ranch 9 equals Tara 17.

In its simplest form, that’s the formula for the equation that will spell the land swap under negotiation between the Manteca Unified School District and Union Ranch Properties LLC which owns the 17-acre future school site south of the 120 Bypass on West Woodward and McKinley Avenue.

The name and location of the Tara property, as well as the identity of the developers where the school site is located, were kept under wraps while negotiations were under way. Those were officially disclosed at the Tuesday meeting of the Board of Education when the trustees were scheduled to vote on approving the land-swap agreement.

But instead of approving the proposed contract, the board decided to table it while directing Superintendent Jason Messer to come up with the answers to the concerns that were brought up regarding the land exchange before they make a final vote at a future special meeting.

Karen Pearsall said she was not against the proposed exchange of the properties but wanted to make sure that the assessed values of the lands involved are comparable. A total of $5,531,859.86 of Measure M funds was used to purchase both the nine-acre Union Ranch school property on North Union Road and the 8-acre Tesoro off Woodward and Van Ryn avenues which translates to $325,403.52, she pointed out. She wanted the school district to at least break even in the exchange, she said.

The numbers are from the latest report on Measure M projects and expenses released in September.

Bruce Lownsberry, one of several concerned residents at the Union  Ranch development east of the Woodbridge at Del Webb on North Union Road, said he thinks the land swap “makes a lot of sense” but that he wanted to know if “comparable housing will be built” at the school site that is being abandoned in his neighborhood.

“That matters to us,” he said.

Will the nine-acre lot become a public property, or is it going to become a development for high density housing or subsidized housing? These are concerns he and his neighbors would like to see included in the agreement that the district and Union Ranch Properties will sign, he said.

Lownsberry also wanted to know if the public will have an opportunity to comment further on the contract before it becomes a done deal.

Messer said there will be “multiple chances” for the public to make their comments on the issue before the agreement is finalized. He further explained that all three properties will be assessed based on their highest and best use.

The Tara school site is owned by Michael W. Atherton and Albert G. Boyce of Union Ranch Partners, LLC. It is located on the southeast corner of Woodward Avenue and the McKinley Avenue. The portion of McKinley that borders the future school site is currently an agricultural property at this time.

Under the terms of proposed agreement, the two school sites are “deemed to constitute ‘fair market value’ for the Tara school site” and vice versa.

The City of Manteca has already approved the creation of the Tara school site as well as its zoning to allow its use as a school site.

The district is giving up the two small school-annex sites at Union Ranch and Tesoro because they “no longer align with the district’s educational specifications” because each is “significantly less than the preferred 16 acres” at Tara. Additionally, “current development patterns within the district indicate a new K-8 school south of the Hwy 120 Bypass will be needed in the relatively near future.”

The development where the future Tara school site is called the Oakwood Trails Area.

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