Although the reasoning for the recent Draft General Plan Update Community Meeting, held on Thursday, was to inform community members of the possible negative environmental impacts on the community, majority of the meeting was spent explaining to Denair residents that the City of Turlock’s projected growth plans would not impact the town of Denair.
With about 50 attendees at the public meeting, roughly 30 individuals were from the town of Denair, all of whom expressed the same sentiment of anti-growth for the City of Turlock.
Leslie Gould, principal with the Dyett & Bhatia Urban and Regional Planners, stated that there would be no impacts on the City of Denair as none of the proposals of the Draft General Plan Update would alter the northeastern boundary of the City of Turlock, therefore leaving Denair unaffected.
The Draft General Plan Update and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) presented analyzed growth alternatives: Alternative 1 – Infill and development of master plan areas Southeast sections 1, 2, and 3 only, Alternative 2 – Infill and development of master plan areas Southeast sections 1 through 5 only; and Alternative 3 – No Project Alternative (1993 General Plan, partially updated in 2002).
Denair Fire Chief Glen Doerksen, however, contested that there would be impacts on the town, as the proposed General Plan Update would annex 680 acres of Denair’s farmland. Gould, however, stated that the City of Turlock would only annex 320 acres served by Denair Fire, and that agreements were to be made in order to compensate the Denair Fire Department for the lost land.
Denair residents expressed a general distrust in the City of Turlock, with several statements in regards to the City “taking over” Denair.
Doerkson also stated that spending $1.25 million on the 4-year study and plan update was incredible in comparison to Denair’s annual city budget of $150,000.
After numerous Denair residents had shared their anger and frustration with the City of Turlock’s growth plans, Turlock resident and former City Council candidate David “DJ” Fransen stated he would like to talk about Turlock.
“This is the Turlock plan, right?” stated Fransen. “Am I the only one from Turlock? I’d like to comment on Turlock, personally.”
Fransen’s comments, however, did resonate well with the upset Denair residents, as he questioned why the City of Turlock couldn’t just grow in population through options like taller buildings, and infill development.
Turlock resident and City Council candidate Sergio Alvarado shared similar sentiments, however, instead of just being limited to restrictions on physical growth, Alvarado advised the City of Turlock to follow the example of the City of Kingsburg, a city that has strict enforcement on population control.
The Draft General Plan Update Study Area would accommodate a population of approximately 126,800 people at build-out, an increase of about 78 percent over the current estimated population, or 55,400 new residents. Over a 20-year period, this represents an average annual growth rate of 2.9 percent, a slightly higher rate than that experienced over the last 20 years, which was about 2.6 percent.
According to the Draft EIR document, based on the comparative analysis in the Draft EIR, and setting aside the No Project Alternative (as provided by CEQA), Alternative 1 is identified as the environmentally superior alternative. This determination is based on the fact that Alternative 1, compared to the proposed General Plan and Alternative 2, would result in less environmental impacts due to its build-out supporting lower population and job numbers. This factor would primarily reduce potential impacts that are related to vehicle trips and miles traveled: air quality, noise, greenhouse gas emissions, and congestion on County and Caltrans roadways. It would also convert the least amount of farmland to urban uses. However, Alternative 1 may not meet the city’s long term development needs, as it can only support the lowest forecasted population for Turlock in 2030. Therefore, given that the San Joaquin Valley as a whole is expected to bear the majority of growth in California, Alternative 1 could result in placing greater pressure on other cities in the region and on unincorporated areas of Stanislaus and Merced counties. The proposed General Plan ensures that Turlock plays its part in accommodating regional growth in a sustainable, compact, urban form.
Turlock Deputy Director of Development Services Debbie Whitmore informed the concerned Denair Residents that if they have any concerns regarding specific land being annexed, they could always address the Turlock City Council, as the decision ultimately lies within the hands of the Council as to which alternative the City would use in the General Plan Update.
The Draft General Plan Update and Environmental Impact Report can be viewed online at http://www.gpupdate.turlock.ca.us/index.html.
Hard copies are also available to be viewed at Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway, or at the Turlock Library, located at 550 Minaret Ave.
To submit a formal comment on the Draft General Plan Update, or express any concerns to the City of Turlock regarding it, please write to the Development Services Department, Planning Division, 156 S. Broadway, Suite 120, Turlock CA 95380, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.