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Attorney to Ripon: Were building ag housing whether you like it or not
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RIPON — A Modesto attorney and developer of eight two bedroom housing units being built across Jack Tone Road from an established Ripon subdivision of 106 homes emphatically told City Council members Tuesday night they had no control over his development.

While the project is on the western city limits of the community, and within the planning sphere of influence, the council members admitted their hands were tied despite their concerns about not being able to have community building standards met.

Designed as rentals for agricultural workers, Tom Hogan said the project he and his son launched some three years ago has already cost them $100,000 in grading and clearing the property of sheds, debris and garbage.

Hogan said they had hoped to develop the three acres into a bed and breakfast, or possibly sheds in the back of the property for storage and maybe putting trucks there. But  when it came down to the most cost effective choice, agricultural employee housing won out.

Because the rentals are being built on agriculturally zoned land, and are in the county, the project does not have to meet building standards of traditional housing, according to state law.

“We said we were really going to try to put something in that works with the overall scheme,” he explained.  

Hogan said when they went to the city to seek annexation to avail themselves of city services, they were asked to put up $500,000 to hook up to the sewer.

“We never got any help from the city whatsoever, nothing,” said the attorney who resides on South Jack Tone Road.

“I have no interest in meeting with the city after we have been working for 10 years – there is no other option,” he stressed.  “We’ve been A’Okd with the county, and that’s it – you guys really don’t have a say in it!  I hate to be so blunt, but where were you guys six months ago?”

Hogan said they also have plans to possibly put a farmers market on the acreage.  

The younger Tom Hogan, who is managing the project, described the eightplex of apartment units as being upscale complete with Formica counter tops.  He described the landscaping that he felt would add to what had previously been  chicken houses.  Four more units are projected for the site.

Hogan didn’t comment on how much the units were going to rent for, but he did say they wouldn’t be low cost $200 apartments.  There are a dozen parking spaces in the plans that are located directly across the front of the units.  

When Ripon business woman Danielle Pierce asked him to define “agricultural workers” as approved by the state for housing built on agriculturally zoned land, he said it could be anyone who worked in agriculture – maybe even workers from Gallo winery.

Hogan said he hoped the project could mesh into the city’s future development plans for the Jack Tone arterial – planned as a major entry into the city.   However Mayor Chuck Winn said a concern he had was that the development would become a county island in coming years with the city growing around it.

As an island it would continue to be operating without city sewer, and water connections, he said.  Police services would have to come from the county sheriff.

One resident from the Harvest Estates subdivision to the east said he hoped the development wouldn’t cause his already decreasing property value to drop even further.

Councilman Garry Krebbs said he doesn’t like the project going in across Jack Tone Road from the existing single family homes, but “we have no control over that,” he continued.  “The city of Ripon has no way to stop this project – the state says it has to be allowed.”

Councilman Dean Uecker told the Hogans that what they have done with the property out there is impressive.  

“It is what it is – fees and cash often make it not feasible (what you can do).”

Councilman Red Nutt said he hopes the city will take steps to keep something like this from happening again in the future within the city’s sphere of influence.