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Annexations move forward minus homes along Airport & Lathrop Road
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Manteca’s future job growth won’t sacrifice the lifestyles of two dozen homeowners.

The San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission – also known as LAFCO – on Friday approved two proposals submitted by the City of Manteca to annex the 1,032.4-acre Austin Road Business Park and 300.4 acres in Northwest Manteca that includes the proposed CenterPoint distribution center.

The move delighted homeowners around the CenterPoint project – which will run along Airport Way from Lathrop road to Roth Road to provide access to the Union Pacific intermodal freight operation – who opposed having their homes annexed to the city.

While the City of Manteca initially tried to only move forward with the 300.3-acres that includes the CenterPoint development, LAFCO staff insisted that the city add to the initial proposal two residential areas on the south side of Lathrop Road and the east side of Airport Way to comply with the policy of not creating unincorporated pockets or islands in a given community.

But with the commission’s approval, residents like Linda Hat – who has family land in the area that has been passed on for generations – get at least a temporary reprieve from having to relinquish her rights as a county homeowner.

“It’s a piece of land that my mother inherited from her father who inherited it from his father,” said Hat. “If you look up at that seal behind you, you’ll see that on the scales of justice there are the fruits of agriculture. If we cement over and develop all of our land, you’re going to have to change the seal.

“I really don’t think that we’re seeing the forest through the trees here.”

But the big win for both the developer and the City of Manteca was the approval of the massive Austin Road Business Park being developed by AKF and Raymus Homes: The Next Generation. Prior to proceeding to Friday’s meeting, development representative Michael Hakeem had to work closely with the City of Ripon and the Ripon Consolidated Fire District to come to an amicable agreement regarding the loss of property tax revenue that the district depends on.

The developer will end up paying the fire district $18,000 a year for 10-years to make the transition whole. Discussions are planned with the City of Ripon to discuss setting aside money for the Austin Road interchange that is being considered by Caltrans.

There are still several concerns, however, that some on the commission would like to see addressed in the near future.

Alternative LAFCO commissioner Chuck Winn pointed out that the business park will significantly increase traffic in the area. He urged Hakeem to look into the adoption of documents that will allow for fees to be set aside for the Austin Road interchange.

Winn – who serves on the Ripon City Council – was also concerned about how the homes that will be constructed will impact Ripon Unified School District, that allows their students to pick the school in the district that they want to go to.

“When you’re talking about that many kids coming into the district, that’s something that has to be considered,” Winn said. “There are decisions that are going to have to be made.”

The commission voted 3-1 on both items, with commissioner Steven Nilssen casting the lone dissenting vote.