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Ceres expands by 960 acres
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It's official. West Landing with its 960 acres has been added to Ceres city limits.

The annexation was complete last week, priming Ceres to potentially grow by 12,000 new residents at build-out.

In March the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) approved the expansion, which takes Ceres city limits to west of Crows Landing Road south of Whitmore Avenue.

Detaching the area from the county into the city means Ceres City Hall takes over services, including police and fire services. Police Chief Art deWerk, who is also the acting city manager, said public safety personnel began familiarizing themselves with the territory which formerly was covered by the Sheriff's Department and Westport Fire Protection District.

"So far the comments from the residents have been supportive," said Deputy Chief Mike Borges.

The annexed area will likely develop when the economy recovers and could take an estimated 20 years or longer to complete. It's estimated that West Landing could result in the addition of 12,000 new residents in Ceres as well as beef up commercial, office and industrial space as far west to Ustick Road. The area is bounded by Whitmore Avenue to the north, Service Road to the south, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to the east and Ustick Road on the west.

The annexation placed the G3 plant - once the Proctor & Gamble plant - as well as the Stanislaus County government complex inside the Ceres city limits. However, those areas will still bear a Modesto address and zip code.

The annexation proceeded despite a legal challenge filed against the city of Ceres and LAFCO by Protect Agricultural Lands (PAL), said City Attorney Mike Lyions. The suit is challenging the environmental review of the master plan. He said all parties are scheduled to sit down for a conference at the end of the month in an attempt to resolve the matter.

Lyions said the lawsuit has the potential to be in court a while but said PAL did not fight for the stay of the annexation.

The Ceres City Council has hired an Oakland law firm to defend the annexation approval. Lyions said the city is duty bound to endemnify LAFCO in defending the action but the city requires the developer to pay all costs of legal representation.

City officials believe the suit is attempting to hold the project to county plans for a more stringent policy regarding agricultural preservation relating to annexations.

The annexation was prompted by developer/ property owners G3 Enterprises, Rutland Properties and B.S. Boyle Jr. Limited Partnership.

The master plan calls for :

• A housing mix of 293 acres, or 1,310 multi-family units and 2,325 single-family houses;

• 34 acres of regional commercial acres;

• 884,200 square feet of retail commercial;

• 383,910 square feet of office uses;

• 802,100 square feet of light industrial;

• 174 acres of county facilities that already exist at the corner of Crows Landing and Service roads.

• 47 acres of parkland;

• 16 acres for schools.