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Controversial landscape district OKd
Improvements that are now part of the Union Ranch landscape maintenance district. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Union Ranch is now Manteca’s 33rd landscape maintenance district and the fourth to include the upkeep of a neighborhood park.

The Manteca City Council Tuesday certified the results of the cantankerous election involving parcel owners in the north Manteca neighborhood east of Del Webb at Woodbridge. Some 78.9 percent of the parcels had affirmative votes for the formation of the district.

The majority of the homeowners were against the assessment but the majority of the parcels are owned by Atherton Homes and Woodside Homes. The two developers voted for formation of the district. If the district hadn’t been formed, the condition of the subdivision map would essentially have had them pick up the tab for maintenance.

The council certified the formation of the district on a split 3-2 vote with John Harris and Debby Moorhead dissenting.

The assessment will be part of the December property tax bill. The assessment for the initial year is $358.78. The council adopted a maximum assessment of $583.58 per year. That assessment cap increases 3 percent a year. Only four of the city’s 32 existing landscaping maintenance districts are within 10 percent of their caps.

Actual work on the park is expected to start in the fall. Completion is targeted for March or April of next year. The assessments collected will start covering the cost of maintenance of Union Ranch landscaping improvements along Union Road in January.

Homeowners opposed to the formation of the district were unsuccessful Tuesday in a last-minute effort to derail it. They again questioned the legality of the actual district, questioned the competence of the consulting firm that established the assessment, suggested the engendered riparian rabbit species may be nesting at the park site, and made threats to work to unseat incumbents Steve DeBrum and Moorhead in the November 2012 election should they support the formation of the district and it passes.

The formation of the district and the improvement of the park were bobbled. Developers usually do both before they start selling homes.