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Where Manteca meets Ripon
Big Austin Road project crosses community lines
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The impact of the project generally south of Highway 99 saddling Austin Road is so big it will:
• Possibly require a re-alignment of Highway 99.
• Generate 10, 200 residents or about a seventh of the existing population of Manteca.
• Convert 1,037 acres from farming and rural residential use to urban development.
• Impact Ripon Unified schools even bigger than Manteca Unified schools as most of the residential would be within Manteca city limits but within the Ripon Unified district. The number of students going to Ripon could easily exceed the current enrollment of Ripon High.
• The potential to create up to 13,000 jobs - or close to 50 percent of the existing jobs in the city.
• The residential alone represents the potential of creating $1.02 billion in today’s dollars.

Most of the 10,800 residents who may ultimately reside within the 1,037-acre Austin Road Business Park would be closer to downtown Ripon than downtown Manteca.

It is just one way in many of how Manteca’s biggest development ever could have positive - and negative - impacts on Ripon.

Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford notes that the two cities have had “excellent working relationships” in the past and he hopes that continues as the precise implementation of project segments take place.

Among impacts that Ripon City Councilman Red Nutt said he and his colleagues want Manteca to stay on top of are:

•Making sure the new Austin Road interchange - actually the future extension of McKinley Avenue - would connect with a road system that integrates with Ripon’s future plans to the south where they are hoping to build the Olive Avenue Expressway north of Jack Tone Road. In the event that doesn’t happen or takes longer than expected, Ripon wants to make sure roads connect to provide smooth regional traffic movements.

•Directing the Austin Road Business Park’s fair share of future improvements that will be needed at the Jack Tone/Highway 99 interchange. When housing develops, it may be quicker for many future residents to use the Jack Tone exit to reach their homes until such time as the new interchange is in place.

Nutt said Ripon appreciates the fact that many Ripon residents could get some of the projected 13,000 jobs the development may eventually yield and that the community may benefit from increased retail sales tax.

Ripon Unified School District Board member Ernie Tyhurst noted his colleagues wanted to make sure the developers worked with Ripon Unified to the same degree they have with Manteca Unified over the years.

He noted the district has a keen interest in school sites especially since their approach to elementary education is different than in Manteca Unified. Ripon campuses average about 425 students while Manteca’s are double that at 850. It would mean more sites although somewhat smaller would be needed than if the development were entirely within the Manteca Unified boundaries. Also he expressed concern about school sites being placed too close to industrial uses.

Most of the future students in the area will go to Ripon Unified schools.

Weatherford noted those items will be addressed in development agreements as the project moves forward.

Tyhurst noted that the stipulation that industrial and business park development consists of the first two phases with some mixed commercial that includes residential but is in Manteca Unified boundaries  goes first will help Ripon Unified. That is because they will be able to collect development fees for schools ahead of housing.

The Ripon Consolidated Fire District and the Manteca Fire Department have developed a “working agreement” that eventually will be submitted to the Manteca City Council and the fire board for approval. The main issues were protecting the integrity of Ripon Fire’s ambulance service as well as making sure that the fire district is kept financially whole as much as possible.

Once the land is annexed to the City of Manteca, it will be de-annexed from the fire district and they will no longer collect taxes or service the area. However, Ripon Unified anticipates an increase in mutual aid responses once Manteca develops the area. There is also a small sliver of the project that is in the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District territory as well. That district’s fire board has the same concerns as Ripon Fire.

The two cities have also agreed in concept to place a greenbelt with landscaping and bike trails to mark a distinct boundary in the future when the two cites abut up against each other.

Toni Raymus, one of the developers of the project, noted the first construction won’t occur for “probably two to three years.” The partnership is hoping for build out in 15 years.

The Manteca City Council Tuesday night gave its blessing to move the project forward by approving everything from the environmental impact report and master plan to pre-zoning and annexation. The documents that will spell out specifically the obligations of developers to pay for public facilities including schools - the development agreements - will be considered as specific projects move forward within the 1,037 acres.