Farm­ing con­ser­va­tion ease­ment eyed for 417 acres

Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - By DEN­NIS WY­ATT

Hays Road prop­erty was bought with sewer fees

Land the City of Man­teca ini­tially bought as a way to start de­vel­op­ment of mu­nic­i­pal prop­erty where a 500-room ho­tel and in­door wa­ter park along with an ad­join­ing fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment zone may be built could be­come part of an agri­cul­tural con­ser­va­tion ease­ment.

The San Joaquin County Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments is seek­ing to pur­chase ease­ments on 417 acres the city owns at 23000 Hays Road in ru­ral South Man­teca for a price not ex­ceed­ing $5,000 an acre or $2,085,000.

By buy­ing an agri­cul­tural ease­ment with fees de­vel­op­ers pay for such a pur­pose, the land will be re­stricted to farm­ing in per­pe­tu­ity. The use re­stric­tion would be recorded on the deed and would ap­ply to any fu­ture buy­ers of the prop­erty.

Man­teca bought the land near the San Joaquin River over a mile west of the T-in­ter­sec­tion of Air­port Way and West Ripon Road in 2010 us­ing fees col­lected on sewer con­nec­tions. The city pur­chased it for $3.4 mil­lion or $7,529 an acre.

While that may seem like a money losing deal at first glance, it is far from it. The city has been leas­ing the land to farm­ers for a

lit­tle more than $100,000 a year. Should be ease­ment sale go through, Man­teca will have re­ceived $2.8 mil­lion from the deal by the end of the year. But by re­tain­ing own­er­ship, the city will re­coup its ini­tial in­vest­ment based on fu­ture lease pay­ments by farm­ers by 2024.

Not only does it mean a pos­i­tive cash flow in the fu­ture but it keeps the door open for pos­si­ble use of the prop­erty to dis­pose of treated waste­water from the Man­teca treat­ment plant if it is needed dur­ing a fu­ture ex­pan­sion of the fa­cil­ity.

Treated waste­water could ir­ri­gate crops in the fu­ture on the land The just com­pleted $8 mil­lion in­fra­struc­ture work that placed a new grav­ity flow sewer main be­neath the 120 By­pass east of Costco as well as made it pos­si­ble to de­velop an in­door wa­ter park and fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment zone on roughly 200 acres of city-owned land south of the waste­water treat­ment plant will go into ser­vice once a fi­nal link along Wood­ward Av­enue is com­pleted by de­vel­op­ers.

The waste­water that is now be­ing pumped from as far to the east as the Wood­ward Park area will then flow by grav­ity to the treat­ment plant. The sewer line in place now would be cleaned and re­pur­posed as a grav­ity flow line for de­liv­er­ing treated waste­water south of the 120 By­pass to ir­ri­gate ex­ist­ing and fu­ture parks.

Given the line is al­ready on the other side of the 120 By­pass it could ex­tended south to the Hays Road prop­erty which was the city’s orig­i­nal in­tent and used to ir­ri­gate the 417 acres as is now done on land at the waste­water treat­ment plant that a farm­ers leases to grow corn for con­ver­sion into silage to feed dairy cat­tle.

It also opens the door to pos­si­bly sell treated waste­water to farms lo­cated along a po­ten­tial fu­ture pur­ple pipe­line ex­ten­sion to the Hays Road prop­erty.

Much of the treated waste­water Man­teca pro­cesses each day flows into the San Joaquin River where it is sig­nif­i­cantly cleaner than river wa­ter. The wa­ter at that point is up for grabs by oth­ers.

A state law makes it le­gal for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to sell treated waste­water. The City of Stock­ton has a deal in place than sells treated wa­ter it re­leases into the San Joaquin River to a down river agri­cul­tural user.

The city ini­tially moved to buy the prop­erty out of grow­ing con­cerns the state could one day ban re­turn­ing any treated wa­ter to rivers. At the same time the city wanted to con­vert the land be­tween the 120 By­pass and the treat­ment plant proper they had pur­chased for fu­ture land dis­posal of treated waste­water to be re­pur­posed into higher rev­enue pro­duc­ing prop­erty.

City has toyed with lo­cat­ing its own green waste com­post­ing fa­cil­ity on the Hays Road prop­erty

Back in 2010 it was es­ti­mated the move would in­crease the value of the land set aside for land dis­posal where the fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment zone is pro­posed by more than 500 per­cent over the price orig­i­nally paid. Any pro­ceeds from the sale of land around the treat­ment plant for re­tail or busi­ness park pur­poses would go back to the sewer en­ter­prise ac­count. And since the Hays Road site was pur­chased us­ing sewer con­nec­tion fee rev­enue, the con­ser­va­tion ease­ment pay­ment would flow back into the en­ter­prise ac­count as well.

The city has also toyed with creat­ing its own green waste re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity on the Hays Road prop­erty that would be an ap­pli­ca­ble agri­cul­tural use.

It was also dis­cussed in 2010 since the city would have land dis­posal, that Mane­tas could pur­sue agri­cul­tural pro­cess­ing jobs that are be­com­ing more so­phis­ti­cated and bet­ter pay­ing with var­i­ous mar­ket­ing strate­gies such as salad pack­ag­ing. Cur­rently the only such op­er­a­tion in Man­teca — Eck­ert’s Cold Stor­age on Mof­fat Boule­vard that pro­cesses pep­per for piz­zas — sends the wa­ter it washes pep­pers with through a pur­ple pipe to the treat­ment plant site for land dis­posal

Such a food pro­cess­ing strat­egy would be a sharp de­par­ture from the last 40 plus years where the city avoided such op­er­a­tions like the plague since they gob­bled up waste­water treat­ment plant ca­pac­ity at the ex­pen­sive of be­ing able to serve homes.

The sale of con­ser­va­tion ease­ments would take one op­tion of the ta­ble that was listed in 2010 when the land was pur­chased. That op­tion en­tailed pos­si­bly creat­ing a mega-re­gional treat­ment plant some 50 or so years down the road for Man­teca and nearby cities.

The SJCOG will re­view the con­ser­va­tion ease­ment pur­chase pro­posal dur­ing two pub­lic hear­ings on Feb. 14 at 9:30 a.m. be­fore the Habi­tat Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee and Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. be­fore the full SJCOG board. Both hear­ings will take place at the SJCOG build­ing at 555 East We­ber Av­enue in down­town Stock­ton.

Bul­letin file photo

The 417 acres the City of Man­teca owns on Hays Road near McMullin Road south of Man­teca could be placed in an agri­cul­tural con­ser­va­tion ease­ment for per­pe­tu­ity

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