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Lathrop tiff: Commercial or light industrial by McDonald’s

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POSTED December 15, 2009 1:40 a.m.

LATHROP – The twice-continued public hearing for a proposed controversial project on a long-vacant 18.7-acre lot behind McDonald’s in Lathrop comes back before the Lathrop City Council tonight.

The agenda item calls for the adoption of a resolution, at the end of the public hearing, by the council members that would give the green light for the construction of a proposed 383,000-foot speculation building by LBA Realty.

For that construction to begin, the developers must first obtain the city’s approval to change the general plan so that the project site’s designation as freeway commercial shall become general industrial. The project also needs the blessings of the city to have the site rezoned, by way of an ordinance, from its current designation as highway commercial to general industrial.

The developer’s application has been blocked by the strong opposition coming from the former owners of the vacant lot which used to be a part of the now-defunct Lathrop Outlet Mall built in 1995. After being a ghost town for a number of years, the outlet mall returned to become the Lathrop Business Park that it is today, with the University of Phoenix and ITT Technology School as the two major tenants.

The owners of the business park later sold the 18.7-acre remnant lot to the LBA Realty investors.

The Lathrop Business Park owners are against changing the land-use designation and zoning of the property which would require an amendment to the municipal code.

The project has already been approved by a unanimous 4-0 vote by the Planning Commission in the summer. The only person who did not vote on the proposal was Commissioner Jose Perez who excused himself due to a conflict of interest. He is the business park’s manager. The commissioners’ vote was to have the city council approve their findings and approve the developers’ proposal.

A fiscal-impact study prepared for the project location indicates that the proposed tilt-up speculation warehouse distribution building as proposed would generate $61,000 annually to the city coffers. In comparison, the study showed that if that vacant lot were to be developed for retail commercial, the project would bring in a whopping $552,000 to the city’s general fund each year. Office buildings, on the other hand, would present a dismal fiscal picture for the city – it would deal a negative financial blow of $210,000 to the city’s general fund.

This fiscal study was required prior to the approval of the project.

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