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Disputes timing for needed street upgrades
Church of Christ interior DSC_8316 - Copy.jpg
A view of the church interior shows the social hall under construction. - photo by GLENN KAHL

A dispute over what triggers a future widening of West Ripon Road west of Jack Tone Road is pitting the Ripon City Council against the Church of Christ.

What’s at stake for the church’s congregation is when expensive road widening work will need to be done. The church was left under the impression in talking with municipal staff that the expensive work would not have to be paid for until both adjoining properties are developed as well. The church contends the city has changed the requirement forcing them to pay for the work when just one of the two adjoining properties develops.

The dispute triggered an exchange during Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting.

Standing up for their belief they had a “handshake” contract with the city staffers over an improvement contract and fees for the nearly $3 million, 12,000-square-foot-church being built just outside the city limits. 

Steven Herum, a Stockton land use attorney retained by the church, along with church project manager Charles Gentry argued that they had a handshake agreement with city staff members.  Councilman Leo Zuber said while that could be true, the staff has no authority to contract with the public on a project – only the city council has that authority. 

City Administrator Kevin Werner, James Pease, engineering supervisor and Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart countered the church’s argument during the discussion on Tuesday. 

The condition regarding the road improvements required city council approval because the location is within the city’s sphere of influence where the two bordering roadways are expected to be widened as Ripon grows.

Gentry contended cCity staff arbitrarily picked the date of 2025 when the improvements to the roadway and intersection signals would have to be completed,. 

The project manager said the required city setback of 70 feet into the property from the center line of West Ripon Road would have cut right through the middle of the pastor’s home on the site.  That line was  amended to clear the house in exchange for a portion of a  planned driveway. 

The city levied development fees of $3 a square foot on the new site, Gentry said, that equates to $471,000. 

“They look at us as a developer, not as a church,” the project manager added. 

The triggering mechanism to the future improvements was tied to the properties on either side of the church on West Ripon Road and when they are actually improved.  The church elders argued their first draft of the contract said it would have to be “both” properties being improved, setting safety issues in motion for the roadway and intersection claiming that condition had been changed from their preliminary contract to read “either” property.

Gentry said it has been an uphill battle of six years for the moving of their church facility and even in digging a new water well.  It took a year to get the State Water Board to approve our 465 foot deep well, he said. 

Mayor Mike Restuccia ended the session by referring the matter back to the council in 30 days at its September meeting, saying the council and staff would again review the contract and hopefully come to a better conclusion. 

The original site of the Church of Christ congregation is on Milgeo Avenue near the Highway 99 north bound lanes on ramp and has served the Ripon community for nearly 60 years, according to elder Jack Hawes, who with his family have been longtime members.  The new owners have agreed to let the church continue to use that building until their new church is completed, Hawes said.

The new sanctuary is designed to seat 350 worshipers with eight Sunday school rooms, a Bible study room, a classroom and a large fellowship hall and kitchen.  

There are four church elders serving under Pastor Matt Threlfall.  They include Jack Hawes, Chuck Saarloos, David Lee, and Wayne Smith.  Nine deacons include Jason Gentry, Jack Tuggle, Tommy Tuggle, Ben Lee, Brian Hixon, Joe Valdez, Dustin Jorrick John Brazil and John Theid.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email