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Ag Advisory panels input sought on farm annexation
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RIPON – If annexation is in the cards for the school farm, the Ripon Unified school board on Monday made it clear that the Ag Advisory Committee would have a say-so in the matter.

At this point, the City of Ripon is only in the preliminary stages on expanding city limits to include the Mistlin Sports Complex and its expansion plan, squaring out the property boundaries along North Jack Tone Road, Clinton  South, and North Ripon Road.

That’s according to Ken Zuidervaart, director of planning and economic development.

“We wanted to see what the interest was (from RUSD),” he said. “We haven’t embarked on annexation application just yet.

“An annexation agreement would be the first step.”

Nor did Zuidervaart have an exact cost on the fees for the annexation application.

He could make that available when district officials meet with city staff and the Ag Advisory Committee at an upcoming special session.

Trustees voted 5-0 to go that route at the regular monthly session held at the Council Chambers.

“I think we should first get input from the Ag Advisory Committee before moving forward,” Trustee Donna Park  said earlier.

David Phippen of the Ag Advisory Committee called the school farm “a long-term operation designed to last a long time,” he said.

Almonds and other trees were put in place about two years ago and are almost ready for harvest. He along with Sherry Johns, who is a Ripon High Ag instructor and department chair, stressed the importance of the right-to-farm ordinance if the area is annexed into the City.

“My biggest concern is that the council will change and the school board will change, and we’re left (without anything in writing) for our right to farm,” she said.

According to Zuidervaart, the school farm along with the other areas has a land-use zone of urban reserve. But that could change to residential once annexed.

Trustee Ernie Tyhurst weighed in on the importance of the district property.

“The school farm is actually a campus given the instructional education,” he said.

Zuidervaart added that annexation process on this area would require a series of public hearings before the Ripon Planning Commission and the Ripon City Council.

In addition, the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission must OK all annexation within San Joaquin County.

“The land (for the ball park) was purchased by Tony Mistlin and donated to the City of Ripon,” he said.

About a year ago, the Council approved the expansion of the park to include more baseball fields.

The Mistlin Sports Complex is also home to the Almond Blossom Festival.