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Lathrop eyes annexing business park project
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LATHROP — It’s 384 acres of mixed-use project that fills in a gap that will connect Manteca to Lathrop where the Highway 120 Bypass meets Interstate 5.

And it could end up meaning a whole lot in terms of both jobs and tax revenue for a city that has become somewhat of a beacon for industrial firms that appreciate the easy access to California’s two major north-south freeways, and quick access to major markets in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and the Los Angeles Basin.

The Lathrop Gateway Business Park – tucked into a corner just north of the 120 Bypass and east of I-5 – is now set to move forward to the Local Agency Formation Commission to secure approval for the annexation of 213.5 acres into the Lathrop’s city limits. The city council voted unanimously to approve the move, nine months after accepting the environmental impact report for the project and a month after the planning commission recommended approval.

But it’s not exactly a cut-and-dry move.

Because there are some homeowners and property owners that don’t wish to be part of the project at this time, a pre-annexation agreement was included with the language to offer protection – something that won’t prevent all of them from being included in the annexation but shelter them the fees that may be associated with the transition.

Christine Mendes, who has lived on her two-and-a-half acre property on McKinley Avenue for 20 years, needed to get some extra explanation about what the annexation meant to her and her husband of 41 years. It’s a house, she said, that they have been working on to make their retirement home for some time and was worried that extra stipulations would prevent her from being able to do the things that she enjoys – like raising miniature horses.

“My concerns are that if it’s zoned limited industrial we won’t be able to sell it as a single family dwelling, and if we go to refinance it we won’t be able to based on the property use,” Mendes said. “And then there’s the sound that I’m worried about and how it’s going to affect our home.”

Community Development Director Glenn Gebhardt assured Mendes that she’d be able to continue living in the house with no problem, and that she could sell the home to another family as long as they used the house as a primary residence – attaining a “legal, non-conforming” status.

Things were a little bit more complicated for Martin Harris, who represented family interests that will be greatly impacted by the move to annex into the city. According to Harris, the five properties that are included in the 384 total acres should be exempt from the initial annexation push because they aren’t ready to move forward – citing the city’s $3,500 sewer standby fee as a major reason why.

“We can’t afford $300,000 a year just to stand by and wait,” Harris said.

He took a neutral stance on the rest of the annexation.

Lathrop Principal Planner Charlie Mullen said that it’ll likely take three to four months before the project will make it on the LAFCo calendar.

Once completed it will contain 57 acres of commercial office uses, 168 acres of limited industrial uses and 83 acres of service commercial uses. The remaining 77 acres will be used for roads and public facility sites.