Should the city stop and take a breath before annexing?

“Before the city took the money, it should have been brought up at a public meeting.”
Graphic: Winters Express
Graphic: Winters Express

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started to reimburse the city for staff time and studies. Before the city took the money it should have been brought up at a public meeting. Just like sending large purchases out to bid, before the city accepted the money the city council should have been told what they were selling. If someone gives you money, they want something in return. It would be nice to know what we are selling, how much the developers expect for their money. I would also like to know how much money are we willing to spend so that developers can make money, or how much money do we expect them to pay to build in Winters? If we are considering annexing property and changing our sphere of influence (land we might annex in the future), it is time to redo our general plan. I know it is expensive and time-consuming to change our general plan, but it is cheaper than dealing with planning mistakes. General plans look out 20 years or so, and if we are looking out for our future it would not hurt to slow down, take a breath and come up with a plan on how, and where, we should grow past our current city limits. We aren’t in a hurry, or are we? I’ve been pushing for consistent growth in housing, commercial and industrial developing for decades and I haven’t changed my opinion. Our general plan lays out where we should grow and what kind of development is allowed. The plan called for most of our growth to be on the 128 entrance to Winters, where it belongs. Our new housing has mostly been to the northeast, where the soil isn’t that great or is downright bad. There is still a lot of undeveloped land within our city limits and sphere of influence. There is also land in the city limits and sphere of influence that can’t be economically developed because of a possible flooding issue, but those issues are also pointed out in our current general plan. Past general plans took into consideration farmland preservation and the council has been good about not crossing Dry Creek to the west or the freeway to the east. Putah Creek is our southern border and Solano County has been good about not building on our border. But it looks like the new plans being floated around city hall expand our residential development into farmland that should be preserved. The loss of farmland along Grant Avenue, or Highway 128 was unavoidable, but there are ways to grow without pushing our housing beyond our current sphere of influence into farmland. I’m not an expert on soils but it doesn’t take an expert to see where farmers grow crops and where they don’t. If the land wasn’t next to our city limits I don’t think it would be worth much, but if you can grow houses, the land becomes valuable and developers will spend a lot of money to make sure they get a return on their investments. Let us not be in a race to the future. The ground has dried out so you can scoop up a handful of fresh soil, smell it, and if you like the smell, you’re a farmer. If it smells like money, you’re a developer or a city employee. Now is a good time to read the Express, show up at public meetings and make sure you speak up, one side or the other. Have a good week.]]>

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