City Council approves community driven ballot measure

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A tearful goodbye, approval of allowing the people to vote for future development, and a vote to allocate funding to fight the pandemic made for an eventful July 21 city council meeting.

For City Manager John W. Donlevy, Jr, the meeting marked his last council meeting before he leaves to become the city manager in Auburn on Aug. 10.

To celebrate Donlevy’s 19 years as Winters’ City Manager, state Senator Bill Dodd and former Winters mayor and current state Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry presented Donlevy with a certificate appreciation.

“I’m here with a heavy heart, because I didn’t want to have this time come,” Aguiar-Curry said, her voice cracking with emotion. “I owe a lot of my success to John Donlevy,”

Aguiar-Curry recognized that Donlevy’s dedication to Winters went beyond city hall: Donlevy was a tireless volunteer during the youth soccer season, he volunteered at the fire department and he was a master pancake flipper at the yearly Rotary pancake breakfast.

“No one in this community is more loyal to the city than John Donlevy,” she said. “It will be hard to fill his shoes.”

Donlevy, his voice wavering and cracking, said, “My family will always consider Winters our hometown.”

Voting on future growth
The council unanimously approved putting a measure on the November ballot that would create an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) around the city and allow citizens to vote on future development outside of that boundary.

The approved ballot measure, created by a committee of city leaders and the leaders of the slow growth group Keep Winters Winters (KWW), would replace the KWW measure the council voted to place on the November ballot at their past meeting.

The ballot switch was the result of a compromise negotiated between KWW and the city.

According to City Attorney Ethan Walsh, the new measure “enacts a new General Plan policy that establishes a process by which lands that are outside the initial UGB, but have historically been contemplated as areas for potential future development, could be included in a specific plan area and the UGB could be relocated to the outer boundaries of that specific plan area.”

A key element from the KWW measure staying in the negotiated measure is the requirement that all new development be community driven.

To that end, a Specific Plan Committee of twelve will be created. Members of the community, business leaders and city staff will make up the committee and formulate a plan for development.

The “community plan”, would then go to a city-wide vote for approval.

Money for the cause
The council unanimously approved filing for a COVID healthcare services funding grant under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The more than $75,000 will be given to the Winters Healthcare to help them monitor and test residents.

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