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Planning Stanislaus' future
Valley Vision seeks community input on transportation, land use
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More compact growth and a need to relieve traffic congestion throughout the county were  the priorities voiced by members of the Turlock Planning Commission and community members during a Valley Vision Stanislaus workshop held Thursday night.

Thursday's workshop was just one of the outreach sessions held in the county  to receive community input on regional growth. Senate Bill 375 requires planners to consider how land use and transportation can be coordinated to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Stanislaus Council of Governments is embracing this new law with Valley Vision Stanislaus, a long range regional plan that includes framework for roads, freeways, public transit, bike trails and other public modes of travel for the next 28 years.

"There's a saying in transportation — a trip does not begin on a road; it begins in a home and ends in a store, place of employment or city council or planning commission meeting. The link between transportation and land use is very important to us," said Carlos Yamzon, director of StanCOG at the start of the workshop.

A myriad questions were asked of Planning Commission attendees Thursday night — about county transportation, housing, general growth, and expectations of the plan itself.

"I would like to see our bike baths connect better," said Adrienne Werner of the city's planning department. "I would like to see more and better biking facilities."

"In my opinion, regional rail is the most important need in the Central Valley," said Mike Pitcock, Turlock development services director.

Along with varied opinions on what is needed in the county, concerns about the regional plan actually being implemented were also voiced.

"My concerns stem more from we already having a lot of pipelined projects and a lack of regional funding," said Debbie Whitmore, deputy director of development services for the city.

Planning Commission Chair Mike Brem also saw a problem with how different city's projects are prioritized in the county.

"Modesto gets all the juice, and we get what's left," Brem said.

Valley Vision consultant Kendall Flint reassured Thursday's audience that the plan is about "regional benefit" and a "regional vision."

Valley Vision Stanislaus is continuing to seek public input through its website The input will be considered when planners develop potential scenarios, which will be released to the public during a forum scheduled for March 23. The time and location of the public forum haven't been set as of Friday.

After receiving public input on the scenarios, a preferred draft plan will be developed, along with an environment draft plan, in June or July. The final Valley Vision Stanislaus regional plan is expected to be completed in October.