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Land swap may give Manteca 17-acre campus
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Negotiations are under way for the Manteca Unified School District to get rid of two annex sites – the 9-acre Union Ranch on North Union Road, and the 8-acre Woodward Annex south of the Highway 120 Bypass.

The Board of Trustees on Tuesday night at their regular meeting gave the green light to Superintendent Jason Messer and staff to continue their talks with a developer who has expressed willingness to swap the above two vacant properties acre for acre. The objective of the exchange is to yield a 17-acre future school site for the district.

The end result would see both neighborhoods ultimately end up with additional housing on land once targeted for elementary schools.

The identity of the developer that the district is negotiating with was not divulged; neither is the location of the 17-acre property. Messer told the board members who wanted to know these details that these cannot be made public at this point because the negotiations are still ongoing.

What was made public, however, are information about the costs involving the two properties and a little bit about each property’s history.

Union Ranch

Union Ranch, which is the Atherton development’s project on the east side of North Union Road across from the age-restricted Woodbridge at Del Webb, was acquired by the school district in 2006 at a cost of $2,019,595. Its current assessed value for 2012-13 by the San Joaquin County Assessor’s office is $2,302,841.

Woodward Annex

Woodward Annex, located in the Tesoro residential development in the triangle formed by Atherton Drive, Van Ryn Avenue, and Woodward Avenue just south of the 120 Bypass, was purchased by the school district in 2005 at a cost of $1,990,235. San Joaquin County places its current assessed value at $2,607,501.

The swap option was favored by the board over a possible sale of the properties since staff has determined that a new 17-acre school site “will better address the future needs of housing students” in Manteca Unified.

The sale option was not recommended by staff, and was subsequently nixed by the board, since it would mean a loss of investment for the district.

Both Union Ranch and Woodward Annex were acquired using Measure M monies plus developer fees.

Residents at the Union Ranch school property have been doggedly seeking a solution to the problems brought on by the empty field next door to their homes. They have likened the dirt property to a dust bowl, while others complained about the “eye sore” negatively affecting the value of their properties. Several of the concerned residents were again present at the board meeting Tuesday night with a couple of them addressing the school officials at the podium. There are some residents who are demanding that the approximately $1,000 in annual Community Facilities Districts (CFDs) fees – also known as Mello-Roos  –  they have been paying be refunded to them. However, they have been told by district officials that this solution would not be a simple one. A study session that will be open to the public is being scheduled in August to discuss the issue of Community Facility fees.