Fast track measure to become law
by Nick Rappley | Patterson Irrigator
Apr 24, 2014 | 1186 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A fast-tracked measure to give final power over approval of business projects to city staff passed the Patterson City Council for a second time in a week at the Patterson City Council meeting Tuesday, April 15.

As a result, the measure will become an ordinance within the next 30 days.

The measure is being rammed through by staff because they say another large corporate distribution center is looking at Patterson with tight deadlines, according to City Manager Rod Butler. The city planning commission gave its stamp of approval on the measure just one day earlier on Monday, April 7 at a special planning commission meeting.

The latest mystery project, one of several rumored to be in the works, would be a 1.5 million square foot facility in the West Patterson Business Park.

Council members, staff and the public debated the merits of the ordinance for some time again April 15, after spending more than an hour on the topic Tuesday, April 8 during its introduction.

The measure passed again 4-1 with Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten again the lone dissenter. Mayor Luis Molina, Councilwoman Deborah Novelli, Councilman Dominic Farinha and Councilman Larry Buehner all voted in favor of the ordinance.

Specifically the ordinance would give the power to the city manager in conjunction with the city engineer and fire chief to perform a final sign off on final parcel project maps. A finalized map currently must be approved by the city council, which occurs generally on a consent agenda with little discussion, according to officials. Approval of a final map, which must be substantially the same as the earlier tentative map, must be approved either by staff or council by state law.

“I don’t think we should be doing this,” Lustgarten said again April 15, disagreeing with staff members about how other cities proceed in such matters.

Joel Andrews, city planner for Patterson, said he’d been in contact with other city planners and engineers from area municipalities and found that it was a regular practice for councils to cede the power of approval of final maps of projects to staff.

Lustgarten said she’d done some research on the internet and found that no municipalities had ceded the final map approval to staff.

City Manager Rod Butler said it was possible that the municipalities hadn’t updated their city code on the internet in a while.

“You need to be careful about going online and getting information and then accusing staff of not being honest,” Butler said.

Andrews stated April 8 that most cities have already initiated similar plans, while Patterson lags behind, causing unneeded further delays as a project has to wait until the next city council meeting to go through the formality.

“By delegating this power to city officials, the city can create greater flexibility to expedite final map application reviews,” a staff report to the council, authored by City Planner Joel Andrews and signed by Butler, read. “As the city grows, final map approvals will become more tedious for the city council to review.”

Lustgarten said she didn’t understand the need to rush projects through and it was only a matter of days.

Mayor Luis Molina said, “We have an opportunity, whether its three days or three months. If we don’t pull the trigger the project could move down the road.”

Nick Rappley can be reached at nick@pattersonirrigator.com or 209-568-9975.

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