County takes over airfield project
by Brooke Borba | Patterson Irrigator
Jul 15, 2013 | 1835 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s finally time for take-off for the former Crows Landing Air Facility, as Stanislaus County takes the helm for the project as applicant and lead agency for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) at the Stanislaus County board meeting on June 11 at 1010 10th St. in Modesto.

The goal of the Crows Landing project area will be to create a locally based job center that allows county residents to earn sustainable wages within Stanislaus County.

County staff was forced to regroup and discuss the next steps regarding the development of the former naval airfield after no one submitted an application to develop the air facility by the county’s 2:30 p.m. deadline on Feb. 1.

West Park developer Gerry Kamilos, who had an exclusive contract with the county until August 2012, was among one of the interested parties for the field, but did not want to commit to the project after reviewing region development sites in Patterson, Tracy, Lathrop and Stockton.

Kamilos intended to build a 2,930-acre industrial park on and around the airbase, including a 157-acre “inland port” that would be connected to the Port of Oakland, but opted out on the project as it proved to be “a particularly challenging prospect.”

Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini, whose districts include the West Side, indicated that he knew there would be a lack of advocates given the state of the local economy, and the fact that Patterson already posses prime land for infrastructure and business parks.

Although development at the airfield has been prolonged, the County is making an effort to make up for lost time, according to DeMartini.

County staff attempted to reassess the challenges and opportunities associated with the site development and outreached to area content experts. Economists, developers and real estate brokers believed that the former air facility would not be able to support development, but suggested the county to invest in incentive strategies.

In response, the board of supervisors also approved the preparation and publication of a Request for Proposal for land use, engineering, and environmental consultant services to reduce risks.

Supervisors DeMartini and Dick Monteith, along with county staff, will form an Ad Hoc Review Committee to meet quarterly as they oversee the planning process.

According to staff recommendations, the board hopes that performing these actions will project the County as a “good partner and a real and shared commitment to site development.”

The next step for the facility will utilize strategies to “bridge the gap” between developer-driven Specific Planning processes and generating interest in a development location. County staff intends to utilize the following options:

(1) Use the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan (ALUCP) as a foundation to identify feasible land uses throughout the site.

(2) Develop an infrastructure and facilities master plan, with will include water supply, sewer, drainage, fire protection and the need or cost of new facilities.

(3) Develop a transportation infrastructure Master Plan, which will offer opportunities for transportation on existing facilities and connectivity to Interstate 5 and State Route 33.

Many Patterson residents believe that utilizing the naval base for economic gain would add more opportunities to Stanislaus County’s job market, as well as save prime agricultural land.

“I want [the air facility] to be utilized as a shipping airstrip,” said Patterson resident Steve Brooks. “We need to use this air base for industrial purposes instead of letting the facility go to waste. Honestly, we could use this airstrip to ship fresh produce, allow the (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) CDF, UPS or FedEx to come in, and this space would give them a lot more room than anywhere else. This would be a great alternative to many problems we have in our community.”

Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or brooke@pattersonirrigator.com
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