Commissioners drew a collective sigh after giving its OK to the plan, policy document and environmental impact report and recommending that the City Council do so as well. The council is slated to begin discussing the document on Thursday, Oct. 21, after its Oct. 19 meeting was continued because of a gas leak at City Hall.
“It’s been a long, tedious process that has involved a lot of people, a lot of time and a lot of community effort,” Commission Chair Pat Dooley said after the meeting.
The draft plan recommends expanding the acreage of Patterson by two to three times and tripling its population in the next 50 years or so. The final plan will serve as a guideline for the city’s future growth once the council approves it.
Thursday’s decision came after commissioners held off on voting on the document last week to ensure that it was approved in a legally proper manner.
At the advice of an attorney, commissioners who lived or worked or had family members who lived within 500 feet of certain areas that were outlined in the general plan took turns leaving the council chambers as the remaining commissioners voted on those portions of the general plan map.
That map is a hybrid of other proposed map alternatives – one that focused on compact development, another that emphasized jobs and a third that was based on earlier recommendations by the planning commission.
The commission’s final map includes heavy industrial uses as far north as Baldwin Road and Highway 33 as well as light industrial job centers between a large stretch of Rogers Road and Interstate 5.
Low-density housing is proposed for an area that stretches north past Zacharias Road and is bordered by the Heartland Ranch and Walker Ranch developments and Keystone Pacific Business Park to the south. More low-residential housing is proposed for the southern part of town stretching all the way to Elfers Road, and a buffer of estate residential housing is proposed to run just south of Elfers.
On the east side of town, the plan outlines the approved Villages of Patterson mixed-use development as well as stretches of low-density residential development to the north and east. More low-density housing is proposed for an area that extends south of the current homes in eastern Patterson down to Orange Avenue.
The plan also makes allowances for development in the western foothills on land between Del Puerto Canyon Road and Interstate 5 north of Sperry Avenue.
Shopping centers are proposed for a couple of areas just east of Interstate 5 as well as an area on the west side of Highway 33 on the south side of town.
The draft plan would accommodate about 65,000 residents over an estimated period of about 55 years, according to general plan consultant Dave Moran of Crawford, Multari & Clark Associates.
Recent changes that the commission approved in the draft plan include replacing a “Neighborhood Village” designation for areas contemplated for large-scale development with low-density residential, even while maintaining similar land-use goals.
Commissioners also have softened language about “smart growth” principles and energy efficiency considerations and eliminated details about what percentage of developments should be designated for specific uses, such as high-density housing, low-density housing, shopping and parkland.
Commission Vice Chairman Ron West, who has recommended some of those changes, has said that he wants to ensure that future City Councils have leeway for making decisions when they receive future project applications.
West noted that the commission has had at least 30 public meetings to allow members of the public to comment.
“I don’t see 100 angry people here tonight that say this is terrible,” West said.
About 15 to 20 people, mostly consisting of landowners and developers, showed up to Thursday’s meeting. At first, the room was relatively silent after the commission took its vote.
“That’s it? I would have expected a little more reaction,” Dooley said after a brief pause, spurring applause from several attendees.
While some audience members appeared relieved to see the planning commission sign off on the plan, others were taking a wait-and-see approach.
Land owner Ken Buehner, who has regularly attended the general plan meetings, said he will be happy when the City Council approves the document.
Looking ahead, city leaders face a rigorous meeting schedule during the next month and a half, as council members hope to approve a new general plan in November.
West commended city staff for their work on the document, particularly as they have been short-staffed in recent months.
Interim City Manager Bryan Whitemyer said after the meeting that city employees have spent a lot of time on the document and feel a sense of accomplishment.
“We’re excited to get to this point,” he said.
• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.