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Idea of forced annexation prompts planners to reject plan for Center Point
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Uneasiness about a San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation request to explore the possible annexation of rural residential property into Manteca as part of the Center Point business park project prompted the Planning Commission to recommend against approving the environmental report.

The commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to recommend  the council not approve the 300.3-acre  Northwest Manteca Plan that includes the proposed 273-acre Center Point Project bounded by Roth Road on the north, Airport Way on the east, Lathrop Road on the south, and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and intermodal facility on the west. The reasoning was because of the LAFCO request that would lump another 92 acres into the annexation consisting of residential property east of Airport Way and south of Lathrop Road.

Roughly 90 percent of all residential property owners who responded to surveys opposed the annexation move.

Community Development Director Fredric Clark noted the city had no choice but to explore the additional 92 acres being annexed as that was the directive of LAFCO.

“It is not up to the city whether that additional property annexes,” Clark said. “That is a LAFCO decision.”

He noted that while LAFCO prefers not to create islands or slivers of rural areas surrounded by the boundaries of a city, it has in the past bowed to pressure. Such was the case with land flanking the Manteca Industrial Park Drive extension where the county allowed other annexations to take place that ended up creating an island of county jurisdiction surrounded by the City of Manteca.

Nearby residents in Del Webb at Woodridge expressed concern about the light at night, noise and truck traffic that would be created by a project to triple the size of Union Pacific’s intermodal truck-to-train facility located less than a half mile away. It is one of the prime reasons why Center Point is being developed with four million square feet of distribution space designed specifically to serve firms that ship truck trailers via rail.

Clark indicated the distribution center buildings - which will be 40 feet in height and will be closer to the tracks than Airport Way - will create a buffer to reduce light pollution as well as help muffle noise.

The Northwest Manteca Plan establishes extensive landscaping along the Airport Way corridor to help “hide” the distribution centers.

Center Point would have a private railroad crossing to directly access the intermodal yard. There also is an internal private road connecting Roth Road and Lathrop Road to each other to avoid the need for truck traffic from Center Point to use Airport Way.

Regardless of whether Center Point is built, the truck traffic will triple from the intermodal operation. A study showed that 82 percent of truck traffic from the intermodal facility goes west to Interstate 5 via Roth Road.

Clark said Center Point could actually help reduce truck traffic when major distribution firms that rely heavily on rail locate there.

Center Point Properties is spending $360,000 on environmental and master plan studies needed to turn empty fields into a teeming employment complex with 4 million square feet.

The project is different than most business parks as it has easy access to rail and is next door to the Union Pacific intermodal facility. More and more cargo is being moved by a combination of train and truck making the location appealing for distribution centers.

It would create enough square feet to accommodate eight operations the size of the Manteca Ford Auto Parts Distribution Center in Spreckels Park. The space is also equivalent to 53 stores the size of Manteca’s Wal-Mart.

The land needs to be annexed to the City of Manteca for the development to proceed. It is within Manteca’s sphere of influence and is continuous to the city limits.