Planning Commission Gives Green Light to Town Center Construction Plans

By Bryan Harrison - posted October 6, 2017

Stockton, CA - The San Joaquin County Planning Commission held their second Public Hearing in as many months Thursday, October 5, 2017. Both hearings were concerning development at the county's southwestern edge, in the unincorporated municipality of Mountain House.

County Community Development Director, John Funderburg, began the evening with a detailed overview of the Master Plan sections in question. Focusing on Specific Plan I (PA-1700003) and Specific Plan III (PA-1700005), then a bit on Specific Plan II (PA-1700004), Funderburg gave an overview of the background and work to date in bringing the revised "tentative map" to the commission to give their blessing and send it on to the County Board of Supervisors for final approval.
He pointed out the chosen street names, all consistent with the Master Plan's "Italianate" design theme. Giotto St., Raphael and Vivaldi Streets. He also pointed out a change in the working name of "Plaza St." to what will now be known as "Grand Avenue".
Design adjustments made to these final maps served mainly to "achieve consistency" throughout. Bringing the tentative map into compliance included the Community Development Dept requiring safe and consistent intersections, which he said has been achieved.
Commissioner Stan Morri inquired about the parks, seeking clarity on to what degree the land throughout the parks area would be developed. Mountain House Community Services District General Manager Ed Pattison stepped up to address his question. He and Mr. Funderburg both weighed in on the beauty of the creek trail, and how there would also be plenty of ball fields and the like.
Mountain House Developers, LLC Land Development Manager, David Sargent, addressed the commission, expressing to them the long-term planning that has gone into the town center design, and the need to move forward with the grocery store, in particular.
"They're starting to not believe us," he quipped about comments from residents. "but we are moving forward with this," he added a moment later.
The only point of potentially great concern over the master plan came from Commissioner Shane Rawlings. He stated that nowhere in the plans for a town that will ultimately house some 44,000 people did he see a hospital. While there is no hospital, per se, planned for Mountain House, zoning for an urgent care center and other medical facilities are included, Sargent stated. Commissioner Morri also pointed out that Sutter Hospitals recently purchased a good bit of land on the western side of Tracy, along Corral Hollow Rd., that should help provide closer access for Mountain House.

Sargent's presentation also pointed out a prominently located three acre transit center, with a bus stop right on Main Street. Plans for early development along Grand Avenue (formerly under the working name of Plaza St) will focus primarily on shops and restaurants on the northern side of the street, with the other side being built in the subsequent phase of development. Grand Ave. is to also include a 10-20,000 square foot community center.

Sargent included a slide of the original Town Center map, as portrayed in 2012. Ultimately, the biggest change from the original map, he said, was in breaking up the roadways to make the town center "more pedestrian-friendly". Removing the original design of DeAnza Blvd as a thoroughfare running through the heart of the downtown made sense, even in early community workshops a few years ago.

The hope now, assuming a final approval vote is achieved by the County Board of Supervisors in November, is that grading may begin as early as next Summer. Work on the Town Hall/Library complex on the Western side of downtown, approved a month ago, could well start even before that.

The commission passed the proposed final map plans in a unanimous vote, and Chair, Kitty Walker, expressed her appreciation to the Community Development Department in doing excellent work.

CDD Manager, Kerry Sullivan, stated that, with no objections having been made, the board of supervisors will likely vote on these plans at their second meeting of November, just before Thanksgiving, November 21.

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