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Council adopts right to farm, passes on developer energy analysis mandate

POSTED April 26, 2013 9:36 p.m.

A lawsuit settlement stipulating the Turlock City Council consider two environment-based motions resulted in the adoption of a right to farm ordinance and a rejection of a resolution requiring energy-efficiency reports for large-scale building projects.
As per a settlement agreement with the California Clean Energy Committee, the City Council was required to consider adopting the two measures, but was not required to pass either one.
The lawsuit was brought in regard to the city's general plan and alleged it did not comply with the California Environment Quality Act, or do enough to protect area farmland. The City Council agreed to settle the lawsuit for $15,000 and consider the ordinance and resolution.
The right to farm ordinance is similar to one already in place in Stanislaus County. It requires the city to not deem agricultural operations on agricultural land a nuisance, so long as it falls within accepted customs and standards.
The right to farm ordinance was passed 4 to 1 Tuesday night with the lone dissention coming from Councilwoman Amy Bublak, who rejected the ordinance on the general principle of the lawsuit.
"It was a frivolous lawsuit in the beginning," Bublak said. "I have so many levels of discomfort with this."
The resolution the City Council had to consider would have required developers of 50,000 square foot projects submit an energy-efficiency analysis of how they could reduce power usage of 15 percent or more over California's green building code requirements.
The report would cost developers money and time, depending on the project.
Councilman Steven Nascimento expressed disapproval with adding another financial "burden in these tough economic times," and introduced a motion to not approve the resolution.
The motion to not approve was passed 3-2, with Councilman Forrest White and Mayor John Lazar voting no.
Also on Tuesday night the City Council:
• Voted 4 to 1 to lessen the road width requirements on Taylor Road for the future expressway. The width change drops it from 108 feet to 94 feet. Councilman Bill DeHart was the lone no vote.
• Agreed to join a contract with the Modesto Irrigation District and Trees Inc. for large tree-trimming projects. The contract will be for 12 months and is not to exceed $10,000. The vote was passed 4 to 1, with White dissenting.
• Designated Market Street a one way street for eastbound traffic. The vote was unanimous.

 

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