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Growth triumphs over Manteca Rural Committee
The 117-lot Monte Bello Estates is in the triangle formed by Louise Avenue, Airport Way, and the railroad tracks. - photo by RYAN BALBUENA

Back in the 1980s the residents along the north side of Louise Avenue between Airport Way and the railroad tracks formed the nucleus of the Manteca Rural Committee.

Their objective was to stop the city from reaching their 12 homes that — when built nearly 50 years ago —were definitely in the countryside.

The first battle was along Lathrop Road exactly a mile to the north. It took place in the late 1980s on the heels of Manteca implementing the valley’s first growth cap when Raymus Development advanced plans for Chadwick Square and the commercial center that today houses Raley’s.

They were emboldened by an early win: The California high court sided with the Manteca Rural Committee by letting a lower court ruling stand that the City of Manteca had to do an environmental impact report for the proposed Chadwick project

Now the final battle has ended. The war is over. The Manteca Rural Committee didn’t win.

Earlier this month the Manteca City Council approved converting the last remnants of the countryside bordering the backyards of the dozen California ranch-style homes now hidden from Louise Avenue by a sound wall into a 117-home subdivision. It will also include a small neighborhood commercial area on the northeast corner of Airport Way and Louise Avenue.

Monte Bello Estates will replace the 30-acre almond orchard that is currently part of the Ott Family Trust.

The final battle waged by the current residents was to avoid having the old segment of Louise Avenue that serves as a frontage road for their homes hidden from the new four-lane Louise Avenue by the sound wall serve as an access point from Louise Avenue for their future neighbors. They failed.

The City Council sided with police and fire officials who said not joining the subdivision’s street system and the frontage road would compromise public safety. 

Mayor Willie Weatherford did, however, secure one concession from the developer. The map for the 117 homes was approved with the condition that none of the homes backing up to the existing 12 homes could have windows on the second floor looking in to the existing back yards.

The existing cluster of homes is where long-time community activist Georgiana Reichelt lives. It is where Reichelt and her late husband Clyde bought in 1965 when they first moved to Manteca. The home was new and well over a mile from the closest city dwelling. It was a year before East Union High opened “out in the middle of nowhere” north of Manteca and surrounded by farm fields.

Reichelt spoke at the council meeting blasting the city for approving the project and noting that they were doing so with California in the grips of the third year of a severe drought.

She asked the council where they were going to get the water for the future residents.

Outside of contending nearby property owners weren’t properly notified of the subdivision plans — the city said they were as state law requires — Reichelt didn’t have much else to say.

The final battle was over. Now all that is left is the replacing of almond trees with more homes.