Master plans for the city’s north section and outlying land to the northeast were adopted in 2005. These 12 year-old plans are still in place today, and based upon old data. At the June 20 city council meeting, City Manager John Donlevy reported that a contract with outside firm Wood Rogers to complete a flood hazard evaluation of the area is necessary to keep the master plan current.
The landowners, Hostetler, Skreden and Corbett, have a stake in surveying the northeast corner of the city as they have stated interest in developing the area.
Of the $280,910 price tag, $50,000 will come from the city’s Drainage/Flood Impact Fee account, and the three landowners will supply the remaining $230,910.
After disputing the implications of accepting payment from prospective developers, the council narrowly approved the contract in a 3-2 vote. The item was originally scheduled for the consent calendar, where items are typically presented and approved without discussion.
Outside of setting the tone for allowing development within the city limits, the idea of annexing the outlying area for further development in Winters has been a back-burner issue for the city to consider.
Donlevy said the contract was necessary for the city to be able to build drainage facilities in the area, which are not currently in place.
“Wood Rogers will do a lidar survey and also go out in the field and do an old fashioned survey, which confirms a lot of what engineers need to know to go in and build those facilities,” said Donlevy. “This is a General Plan requirement. We have to have this document — part of what we do is flood control.”
Donlevy preemptively responded to concerns about the funding source of the project.
“Realize that Wood Rogers works for the city. They don’t work for developers. The annexation plan is going to come whether we look at this or not,” he said.
“Do we have litigation problems if we vote against annexation?” asked Council Member Pierre Neu.
“There’s no expectation other than the fact that Wood Rogers will be moving through with their scope of work,” said Donlevy.
“Every developer that comes into town, they have to pay for this. There’s no obligation that we approve their development,” said City Attorney Ethan Walsh.
Former mayor Woody Fridae commented on the plan to the council, cautioning against starting a trend of fast expansion.
“We need to keep the faucet of residential development on low,” he said, fearing “a fast-track to development that we may not be able to control once it starts.”
Winters resident Sally Brown brought up concerns about the inception of the plan to survey, which was brought to the council by the landowners, according to the staff report.
“It’s implicit that we’re encouraging development,” said Brown, “Myself and many others are completely against annexation in this area.”
Winters resident Jeff TenPas asked how much of the survey area was outside city limits.
“It’s less than half,” said Donlevy, “It’s in our planning area — it’s not outside anything.”
The cost of doing the plan would later be taken out of impact fees to be paid to the city, should development occur in that area.
“Winters Ranch advanced funds for the construction of Well 7 and they received a credit,” said Donlevy.
He said that the future possibility of those savings does not bind the city to accept a development.
“I think it’s important to update this study,” said Council Member Bill Biasi. “I think it’s a good opportunity to bring more jobs in town.”
Biasi was in favor of possibly making the area zoned for industrial use to create need for a workforce, similar to the PG&E development.
“I feel uncomfortable with this to be sure,” said Neu. “I feel comfortable with it being done, just not comfortable with how it’s being funded.”
Council Member Jesse Loren agreed that the tone of the proposition made her uneasy, although she felt the need for the study was immediate because of the state’s recent focus on groundwater management.
Loren and Neu both voted against the project, while Mayor Wade Cowan, Biasi, and Council Member Harold Anderson voted to approve the contract with Wood Rogers to complete the flood evaluation.
In another split vote, the council approved the installation of a Futsal court at City Park. Futsal is a recreational sport where players modify soccer for a smaller court, which results in quicker play with less space between players and a harder ground surface. The high school tennis courts are currently being used for games on a regular basis.
According to City Management Analyst Dagoberto Fierros, the funds will come from a million-dollar payment made by PG&E to offset the destruction of the skate park in 2016.
The city plans to use leftover funding from the futsal court and seek other grants to build a skate park at a later date.
“There are 20-30 kids who play futsal on the tennis courts any given night,” said Fierros. “I feel like it’s a great fit for the city of Winters.”
Cowan was concerned about the space the courts would use up, which is a grassy area between the basketball courts and the restroom facility. He pointed out that it is often used for general recreation and Little League teams’ warm-up space.
“We always felt that a futsal court is overdoing it at city park,” he said of the old park committee. “I still have a hard time cramming this thing into the park.”
He suggested moving the court to Blue Oak Park in the southeast section of the city.
“I have heard that we need more for our teens to do in this town,” said Loren, “it adds to the community, it’s the center of town, it’s inclusive and it says, ‘you’re welcome here.’”
Cowan voted against the project, while Neu, Anderson and Loren voted in favor. Biasi had to recuse himself based on property conflict of interest.
The council announced the selection of planning commissioners to fill the new term as well as replace a spot vacated by Frank Neal prior to the end of his term.
David Adams, Lisa Baker and Paul Myer will continue serving the planning commission with four-year terms. New commissioner Daniel Schrupp will serve a four-year term and Ramon Altamirano will finish Neal’s term, which ends in 2019.
The council meets next on Tuesday, Tuesday, July 18, due to the Independence Day holiday falling on the first Tuesday of the month, which is normally one of the council meeting dates.