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Ag conversion fee drops $1,353 an acre
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Austin Road Business Park- should it move forward to the point development rights are granted - could end up costing developers more than $1.4 million less in the next 12 months.

That’s because The Great Recession coupled with the housing bubble burst caused something no one anticipated when they put together the agricultural preservation fee in response to litigation - land values actually dropping.

The 1,085-acre project that is now in the environmental review stage involved creating job centers, retail, and housing on land generally southwest of the Austin Road and Highway 99 interchange.

On the fees adopted a year ago, the developers would have to pay over $15 million in ag preservation fees before being allowed to develop. The cost was $14,615 per acre. A typical single family home project can generate five homes per acre. That would have meant more than $2,900 would have been passed through to the first home buyer.

Now the rate for ag land conversion per acre for the San Joaquin County Multi-Species Habitat Conservation and Open Space Plan is being adjusted downward to $13,262 an acre. Other fees are also dropping. Land in its natural state is also going down from $14,615 to $13,262 an acre, multi-purpose open space is going from $7,307 to $6,631 per acre, vernal pools uplands is going from $42,071 to $38,328 per acre, and vernal pool wetted is going from $80,766 to $77,720 per acre.

The Manteca City Council is expected to adopt the fees on Tuesday when they meet at 7 p.m. at the civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

All jurisdictions in San Joaquin County agreed to adopt the fees after costly litigation between developers and environmentalists in Tracy made it clear not doing so would be expensive for both local government and the development community.