How much noise is too much noise?
That was the question on Monday when the Manteca General Plan Advisory Committee met at the Manteca Transit Center to discuss two core elements of the document that will shape growth and development in Manteca for the better part of the next decade.
With more than a dozen separate, distinct voices comprising the group that is acting like a steering committee to ready the General Plan for consideration and adoption by the Manteca City Council, what was too noisy for one person was perfectly acceptable for another – and on down the line.
At the end of the two-hour session, representatives from the De Novo Planning Group – the Sacramento-area firm tasked with updating both Manteca and Lathrop’s General Plan – had mined enough concerns, from what noise mitigation measures are required to how noise is calculated, to put something into text that will come back later as part of a draft document.
And safety – whether that’s what information is stored at the dispatch center to what materials are allowed to be hauled through town – was also a focal point as the group talked about ways to ensure that all Manteca residents are safe moving forward.
For Victoria Brunn, who was representing the Manteca Unified School District, that safety meant taking a closer look at what plans are in place for issues that may arise with railroad tracks running near school sites, and what plans are in place for when hazardous materials are contained on the trains in question.
In December of 2016 a punctured chemical container inside of a warehouse in Manteca’s core industrial park shut down multiple roadways as well as Manteca High School and Lincoln Elementary School out of concerns of the wind carrying some of those elements across MUSD campuses. In the 1980s, a train with a tanker carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in the fog three blocks from Manteca High forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents. Since it was on a Sunday, Manteca High wasn’t effected.
The information about contingency plans for safety will be brought back for further discussion and consideration.
But discussions on safety weren’t limited to just contingency plans and dealing with growth-related elements.
In the eyes of Martin Harris, who has written 20 letters to the advisory committee and was shocked to discover that none of them had been distributed or included in their preparatory packets, the key safety issue facing Manteca as it grapples with growth is the San Joaquin River – which breached earlier this year in South Manteca and would have flooded hundreds of homes had it not been for quick-thinking farmers who had equipment nearby to prevent the breach from breaking fully open.
Harris was backed by Raymond Quaresma – the brother of advisory committee chairman Darryl Quaresma – who pulled no punches when it came to spelling out what he feels are the real safety issues facing Manteca.
“When you build in the lowlands you’re going to compete against nature – the water is going to find its way to where it’s going to go,” Quaresma said. “We were here first, and we built in the highlands and while that water will pass us by it’ll keep right on going and that’s what needs to be focused on.”
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