Editor Manteca Bulletin,
Unfortunately, the trend continues with broken promises, lax enforcement of the City’s master plans and poor planning for the future. The second CenterPoint project has made it past the Planning Commission and will soon go before the City Council.
This second project goes by the name of “Project Laurie”. Background: This project is basically comprised of two large warehouse type buildings that will be operated by CenterPoint in conjunction with the Union Pacific (UP) Intermodal Facility. For those not aware, the UP currently loads the large shipping containers on trucks and hauls them to Stockton where they are disassembled into other containers that go to different regions of the country. Some are then shipped out by truck or returned to the UP for further shipping by train. This requires many hundreds of truck trips to and from the UP facilities that will be replaced by the same work being done in the CenterPoint warehouse rather than in Stockton. This is all well and good for the community and is a common sense approach to help reduce the impending increase in truck traffic due to the UP expansion which otherwise could potentially increase the truck traffic by two or three fold.
Broken Promise 1: These two warehouses were to have a setback of 290 to 300 feet from the curb along Airport Road. This served two purposes, it kept all of the large trucks out of sight from Airport Road and it allowed for a wide buffering vehicular parking lot with an additional noise buffering landscaping strip between Airport Road and the large truck loading area on the east side. In the development plan approved by the Planning Commission, a full seventy-four feet including both the parking lot and the landscaping strip have been removed, thus placing the building only 216 feet from the curb. While this may still be two thirds the length of a football field, the sound buffering will be drastically reduced by this broken promise. One might also conclude that by bringing the building that much closer to Airport Road, the appearance of the building should have been altered to meet the requirement of appearing as an upscale outdoor mall as was promised by CenterPoint and City Staff rather than the pure industrial appearance that was approved.
Broken Promise 2: The height of the buildings at this setback would remain below the line of sight from the north bound lanes of Airport Way assuming a five foot berm topped by six foot hedges at full growth. At its original planned setback of 290 feet that would yield a maximum building height of 37 to 38 feet. With the building being moved closer to Airport Road, the height should not exceed 30 to 31 feet. The approved plans show a building height of 46+ feet, well above the line of sight. In the Conditions of Approval, item 13.o, it requires 100 percent screening of the buildings within two years of installation. Please, could someone explain how this is even physically possible with a building of this height positioned this close to Airport Road?
Broken Promise 3: City Staff and City Council Members have repeatedly, over the past eight to ten years, promised the community there would be no large truck traffic on Airport or Lathrop Roads. However, the Conditions of Approval, items 53.a & 53.b both require the Developer to design and install interior and offsite improvements to meet all … criteria for STAA trucks.
Poor Planning 1: In the Conditions of Approval, Item 54 for Airport Way and Item 55 for Roth Road, indicate the “… structural section for Airport Way/Roth Road shall be designed for a minimum Traffic Index of 11.0.” This Traffic Index (TI) drives the engineering of the road base, compaction requirements, quality and thickness of the asphalt, etc. If you were to do an Internet search on how a TI is calculated, you would find the basis of the calculation requires you to first decide how many years, 5, 10, 20 … you want the road to last, how many lanes the road is going to have in each direction (that is another potential letter to the editor covering the issue of the number of lanes), and how many axel trips is anticipated on that number of lanes for that number of years. One can easily discern that if a calculation must result in a TI of 11.0, those basic numbers that go into the calculation must be given. A road that needed to last 20 years with a TI of 11.0 would be engineered much differently than one that only needed to last 5 years with a TI of 11.0. In the Conditions of Approval, none of these basic numbers were delineated leaving it up to CenterPoint to decide. When City Staff were asked about this, the response was that the City has standards for these base numbers and Staff were sure CenterPoint would follow them. Well, you can look all you want and you will not find any requirements in the Conditions of Approval that requires CenterPoint to follow any “City Standards” relative to road work; and, even if there were, we can all see how deficient those standards are, if they even exist, based on the current condition of Lathrop and Airport Roads.
Poor Planning 2: In the Staff report to the Planning Commission, it was noted that no southbound left turn lanes would be built into the median that CenterPoint is required to build south from Roth Road to Lovelace Road. The claim by Staff is that the use of turn lanes would defeat the purpose of having the median. Not even considered is the fact that the low density residential that will be built on the east side of Airport Way is definitely going to need south bound left turn lanes into the housing development. Additionally, with the current proposal, all of the existing property owners east of Airport Road who farm and may have livestock will only have access to their properties via the north bound lanes of Airport Way. This is P to the 4th power planning at its worse.
Lastly, I noted in the plan presented to the Planning Commission for this project, an older map was used that does not show the rezoning on the east side of Airport Road to low density residential. One could easily surmise that was done so the public wouldn’t think of the potential conflicts that will arise by mixing the land use types so close together.