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Water, homeless shelters on tap for council
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The future of Turlock's drinking water supply will take center stage at the Turlock City Council's Tuesday meeting, as councilmembers will receive a long-requested report on water issues in the City of Turlock.

The report has its roots in a Nov. 10, 2009 presentation to the council on water rates and the proposed Regional Surface Water Supply Project – a plan to use treated Tuolumne River water for Modesto, Ceres and Turlock's drinking water needs. The council balked at the surface water plant at that meeting, which could quadruple local water rates, and requested an in-depth report on alternatives to the proposal.

The 22-page report the council will receive covers everything from current water rates to the state of the city's existing water supply and anticipated challenges.

The City of Turlock currently receives all of its drinking water from 23 groundwater wells. But falling groundwater levels and increasing nitrate contamination has already forced the closure of one well in the past 12 months, and make wells a questionable long-term answer for the growing city's water needs.

The report offers a detailed explanation of the pros and cons of various long-term water strategies for the City of Turlock, including groundwater recharge with recycled water, the continued use of groundwater wells, reclaiming storm water, using non-potable or recycled water for landscape irrigation, increased water conservation requirements, wellhead treatment to reduce the level of contaminants and the proposed, pricey surface water treatment project.

The report reaches the conclusion that the regional surface water project, while expensive, is the best long-term solution to the city's water needs.

In a later agenda item, the council will be asked to approve partnering with Modesto, Ceres, and Stanislaus County to ship recycled wastewater to Patterson's water-starved Del Puerto Water District for irrigation use. The project would likely be funded through federal grant dollars, and would generate revenue for the City of Turlock through the sale of the treated water.


Homeless shelter workshop

Before the start of Tuesday's Turlock City Council Meeting, the Planning Commission will join the Council for a 6 p.m. Special Meeting to discuss the city's approach to Senate Bill 2 – a bill which requires the city to designate a zoning area by August 2011 where homeless shelters can be constructed by right.

The City of Turlock currently requires Planning Commission and City Council approval before a shelter can be constructed.

The bill does not require the city to build a homeless shelter, merely to designate an area where someone could build a shelter without having to jump through onerous administrative hoops. SB2 does provide an option for the city to partner with neighboring communities to build a regional shelter, but regional efforts have failed to bear fruit thus far.

The workshop will summarize community input received during a Feb. 18 community meeting on the bill, which was held at Westside Ministries. At that meeting, opinion seemed to concentrate on the option of a southwest Turlock zoning overlay which would allow the shelters to be sited near existing service providers.

The bill does give Turlock the option of mandating a few clearly defined permitting restrictions, such as a maximum number of beds, length of stay or aesthetic design standards. These options will be up for review during Tuesday's special meeting.


Canal Drive resurfacing on agenda

Turlock's notoriously bumpy Canal Drive could soon be smooth driving for Turlockers, as the City Council will consider repaving the street at a total cost of $2,589,660.

The project would see Teichart Construction, the low bidder, reconstruct and resurface Canal Drive from Geer Road to Daubenberger Road, replace broken median curbs, install or replace access ramps, replace traffic signal detector loops and install new signage for bicycle, pedestrian and vehicular travel.

The work would be financed primarily using federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds. State transportation dollars would supply the remainder of the needed funding.


The Turlock City Council is also expected to consider:

  A new fee structure for Planned Developments processed by the Planning Division. The new fee category would cost $4,360, where current Planned Developments cost $9,385 for a property less than five acres and $10,135 for properties larger than five acres.

The new fee would only apply to Planned Development requests for properties that are already developed and request only a minor change in the underlying zoning development standard. Redeveloping an entire parcel would still require the normal Planned Development fee.

  A change to the city's fire sprinkler ordinance, which would exempt one and two family residences from installing automated fire sprinklers when work is done on an existing home. Currently, if owners of a 3,500 square foot residence would like to add a 500 square foot patio, the renovations would trigger the 4,000 square foot threshold to retrofit the home with sprinklers. Starting in 2011, all new one and two family residences will require fire sprinklers, per a change in state fire code.

  An update on the status of the Turlock wastewater treatment plant's Digester No. 4. Council was previously informed of a potentially explosive methane leak related to that Digester at their March 9 meeting. According to Municipal Services Director Dan Madden, after better assessing the situation, it was determined that the leak does not pose any immediate hazards, and can be safely dealt with at a later date.

  Approving a bid of $57,774 to landscape the median of Countryside Drive. The landscaping would be fully financed by federal and state funding.

  Establishing a formal Council policy to not comment to the media on any pending litigation.

  Approving a taxicab driver permit for Yellow Cab driver Edith Parks of Modesto.

  A request to establish liens on nine Turlock properties to repay the City of Turlock for weed and debris abatement services.

  Appointing members to the Community Development Block Grant Community Grant Selection Committee.

  An update on the Columbia Park Water Feature's construction.

  A quarterly update from the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

  Issuing proclamations recognizing Arbor Day and Go Green Week.


The special Senate Bill 2 workshop will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway. The regular meeting of the Turlock City Council will follow at 7 p.m.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.