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Council moves forward with Debely renovation

POSTED November 13, 2009 10:18 p.m.
The Turlock City Council approved a list of more than 20 projects for Redevelopment Agency funding Tuesday evening — including the controversial plan to install a new synthetic track and field at Turlock High School’s Joe Debely stadium.
The Debely renovation continued to draw opposition from Turlock residents in the audience, who believed the $2.8 million could be better spent on annexing county islands, fixing roads, or perhaps even a new football stadium for Pitman High. Redevelopment funding is intended for eliminating blight from specific designated areas of the city by redeveloping, reconstructing and rehabilitating.
Tuesday’s decision merely sets the list of projects that can possibly be funded by Redevelopment dollars through 2014, however, and does not directly commit funding to any project. Councilmembers stated they intentionally added every project they could think of to the list, so as not to limit future decision-making. The list can also be amended in the future.
The Debeley renovation has already been included in the adopted 2009-2010 redevelopment budget. Vice Mayor Ted Howze has stated that he sees the project as a way to use redevelopment funding, which can only be spent on certain projects, to generate sales tax dollars, which can be used for anything from salaries to recreation programs.
The council is expected to vote on funding the Joe Debeley renovation at their next meeting, scheduled for Nov. 24.

New planning commissioner not named
A tiff broke out between Mayor John Lazar and Howze regarding the selection of a new Turlock planning commissioner.
Lazar nominated current Planning Commission Alternate Victor Pedroza to fill a seat left vacant by Planning Commissioner Aben Williams. Williams served as commissioner and an alternate from 2007 to 2009 before a new job abruptly forced his move to Oregon before the July commission meeting.
Howze, however, offered that Williams should retain his seat, as the ex-commissioner has since accepted another new post, back in Turlock. Williams also has time remaining in his previous term.
Lazar stated that he believes there should be a “cooling off period” before Williams is reappointed, and also that he believes it is the purview of the mayor to nominate candidates for council consideration. The decision was held over until the next regularly scheduled Turlock City Council meeting.

Report on unfunded mandates
Turlock’s budget woes are, in part, due to a need to pay for more than 80 unfunded state mandates, according to a report delivered to the City Council on Tuesday.
The report, requested by Howze at the July 28 council meeting, contains a comprehensive list of unfunded mandates, ranging from the $40,000 spent each year on PCE clean-up for downtown dry cleaners to $20,000 on CalARP Risk Management Plans and $92,000 spent on the most recent Housing Element Update. The total cost of the unfunded mandates is not provided in the report.
At the July 28 meeting, Howze suggested that the city not comply with unfunded mandates until the state begins paying its fair share to Turlock. The list presented Tuesday chronicles the penalties associated with non-compliance, which ranged from funding ineligibility to criminal prosecution.

Parcel Map extension pending
The City Council took the first steps needed to amend the Turlock Municipal Code to extend the maximum life of Tentative Subdivision Maps and Tentative Parcel Maps from five to six years, and to allow the subdivider to request a one-time extension of up to three years.
The change is in accordance with June’s State Senate Bill 1185, which grants an automatic statutory one year extension to all tentative maps in order to encourage development in the current economic downturn. The bill also allows local governments to extend the maximum life of tentative maps from five to six years.
In order to implement the change as simply as possible, on Sept. 3 the Turlock Planning Commission proposed a plan wherein the current three year initial life of tentative maps would be retained, while the optional one-time extension period be adjusted from 24 months to 36 months. The council agreed to the Planning Commission recommendation, and the ordinance will now return for a final reading on Nov. 24.

Public Safety Facility one step closer to reality
The City of Turlock approved an agreement to purchase the leasehold interest for the property located at 210 North Broadway, currently hosting Paul’s Paint and Glass. The business sits on the site of the approved 57,570 sq. ft. Public Safety Facility, and Turlock must acquire the title to all parcels before construction can begin.
The city will pay $66,000 to relocate Paul’s Paint and Glass. The relocation settlement and leasehold purchase is the first step toward acquiring the parcel, as the city must then buy the land from the owner.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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