Tonight the City Council will decide if they should move a step forward toward annexing up to 300 acres along North McHenry. On the surface it sounds almost viable but lets take a closer look at the entire picture. If the financial analysis from the Mayor’s 100 Day Committee can be trusted Modesto would net around $500,000 a year in taxes. But as usual the devil is in the details and not everything has been brought out for consideration.
During phase one Modesto would be required to extend the sewer trunk line from Pelendale and Carver where it currently ends, over to McHenry and Pelendale. Not a long distance but the budget number (placeholder) is $2 Million dollars. This estimate has been brought forward from 2007. A time when numbers supplied were very inaccurate where possible development was concerned. Phases two and three (each budgeted for an additional $2 Million and $2.5 Million dollars) would be needed to actually cover the area west of McHenry, and the area to the East would require even more money to be thrown at it. So the actual number we should be talking about is at a minimum of $6.5 Million dollars. And that, using 2007 cost figures, which are notoriously low ball numbers, would make it 10 plus years before any kind of payback would be seen. None of the suggested costs address development to the east of McHenry.
Measure M enacted in 1997 was supposed to protect the residents of Modesto from runaway home development by requiring voter approval for residential sewer extensions. The City Staff is proposing that since the area currently being looked at for annexation doesn’t have a residential element they don’t have to get voter approval. Another thing that needs to be mentioned is that the voters turned down a 2009 ballot annexation for part of the proposed area. But as the City likes to mention, unlike the sewer trunk vote the annexation question was an advisory vote and can be ignored by the Council. We have land use attorney George Petrulakis to thank for that since he wrote most of the City Charter.
So the City believes it can avoid sewer extension vote BUT it can still use the sewer extension for residential development in the future. The sad news is they probably can if we let them It’s just another underhanded backdoor move by home developer’s friends on the City Council.