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West Landing fee will pay for county road impacts
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When the Ceres City Council gave its blessing to the 960-acre West Landing annexation in June, county officials squawked about the absence of an impact fee to pay for county road improvements.

They were smiling when the council took action on Oct. 24 to implement a fee that will generate an estimated $6.5 million for improvements for key intersections which will handle additional traffic to the project.

The West Landing project - which has yet to be considered for approval by LAFCO (Local Area Formation Commission) - would ultimately take the western Ceres city limits to Ustick Road, while adding an estimated 12,000 new residents. Development would also include commercial, office and industrial space.

In June county Public Works Director Matt Machado asked the city to force the developers to pay for an estimated $13 million in road improvements to handle the traffic caused by development.

A total of 29 intersections are expected to be subjected to "significant and unavoidable impacts" by the project, the project environmental impact report (EIR) noted. The EIR details that intersections of Carpenter/Whitmore, Crows Landing/Keyes, Carpenter/Hatch and Crows Landing/Seventh will be impacted as well as Crows Landing Road and Whitmore Avenue east of Blaker Road.

A smaller mitigation fee was developed when officials decided it wasn't appropriate to include the Highway 99/Crows Landing Road interchange in the mitigation fee.

The West Landing project was triggered by property owners' plans to annex 960 acres on the west side to Ceres city limits. 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 plan includes the annexation of the G3 plant - once was the Proctor & Gamble plant - as well as the Stanislaus County government complex.

City policy calls for large scale annexations to only be considered when an areawide master plan is formed to look at land use, circulation, housing, infrastructure and public facilities and services. The policy was put in place to eliminate piecemeal development.

West Landing includes:

• 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.

If approved by LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission, the project would likely start when the economy recovers and could take an estimated 20 years or longer to complete.

The project is being proposed by developer/ property owners G3 Enterprises, Rutland Properties and B.S. Boyle Jr. Limited Partnership.