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West Ceres planning effort continues
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While development is not on the immediate horizon for the Ceres West Specific Plan, members of the Ceres City Council consented last week to keeping planning efforts alive on behalf of the potential land developers.

The council added $10,000 to the contract for consultant Wood Rodgers to stay involved in weekly coordination meetings. The city is being reimbursed for the costs of the contract. The contract change brings the total compensation for Wood Rodgers to $941,528.

The council was okay with okaying up to $10,000 more on the contract but not the $20,675 requested. Mayor Anthony Cannella said he was still "stinging" from cost run-ups that plagued the Copper Trails master plan study.

The project still must be annexed to the city. Tom Westbrook, Senior Planner for the city of Ceres, said that a finalized version of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project is expected to be released for public review in May. After the review period, the Ceres Planning Commission will be asked to consider the project.

Westbrook said the developers have not indicated when they expected to begin any development but said it's probably all contingent on a recovering economic picture.

In December 2007 the city contracted with Wood Rodgers to perform the planning work, which will ultimately be paid by the developer/ property owners G3 Enterprises, Rutland Properties and B.S. Boyle Jr. Limited Partnership. The latest addendum is the fourth for the contract.

Dave Romano, representing Ceres West, said that his group is okay with the change order.

The Ceres West Study was triggered by property owners' plans to annex 959 acres on the west side to Ceres city limits. The area is between Whitmore Avenue and Service Road, bounded by the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the east and Ustick Road on the west. The plan includes the annexation of the G3 plant which once was the Proctor & Gamble plant, and the Stanislaus County government complex.

A study is needed because the city has a policy that annexations will only be considered when the city has approved an areawide master plan that looks at land use, circulation, housing, infrastructure and public facilities and services.

The bulk of what's being planned includes:

• a housing mix of 293 acres;

• 34 scres of regional commercial acres;

• 15 acres of community commercial;

• 32 acres of neighborhood commercial;

• 17 acres of office uses;

• 61 acres of light industrial;

• 126 acres of general industry; and

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

Build-out of the plan really depends on market conditions but the city believes 15 to 20 years once construction begins.