With a 4-1 vote, Galt City Council approved the annexation of 58 acres of agricultural land for a gated community with 204 private homes at the teleconferenced meeting on Sept. 15. Councilmember Shawn Farmer was the dissenting vote. Along with that approval came an amendment to the city’s General Plan, as a portion of the land was originally slated for commercial. Farmer voted against all portions of the project.
The 58 acres is surrounded by agricultural land just north of Twin Cities Road, between Waldo and Hauschildt roads. Ten of the 58 acres are planned for a 1.9 acre park with the remaining eight acres planned for open space wetlands and water basins.
City Clerk Tina Hubert read the public comments submitted by email. Ronald W. Loutzenhiser, Chris Gygi, Ed Cobleigh, Brian Sengo and Steve Hessler live on roads adjacent to the projected housing development. They objected to the change in zoning from the two- to five-acre ranchettes to R1C, which is residential housing.
“The project is unnecessary and unneeded at the proposed location, doesn’t fit the adjacent land uses …,” said Loutzenhiser’s email signed by all five neighbors. “(It) will result in a landlocked ‘sore thumb’ of a project cut off from the rest of the city by a very busy highway ….”
Galt resident Katie Wiley said the project would be a negative impact on schools, roadways and other common areas.
“Not only is the land not annexed into the city but it is also a clear money grab by developers who have no stake in what’s best for the city of Galt,” Wiley said.
Joe Bitondo, another Galt resident, said any Councilmember that votes yes on the projects will “show their true colors” and where they stand on growth.
“We should not alter our growth plan to appease any developers just so they can make some money,” Bitondo said.
Resident Chris Schamber wrote in favor of the Summerfield Project, citing the city’s need for more revenue, more jobs and better maintenance.
“Our city has few choices left to correct many of these challenges,” Schamber said. “It disappoints me when I hear voices looking to stifle growth because they think it is possible to maintain this cute little small town. Our leaders need to ensure our city grows at a rate that can be managed ….”
Councilmember Shawn Farmer asked questions of Project Manager Bryan Wilson. Farmer listened, but ended up stating he could not vote for the project. He stated the city has over 3,200 homes already approved for building, which he said would add around 10,000 more people to Galt, a huge increase since the population stands at around 25,500 residents.
“It clearly is somewhat like a sore thumb,” Farmer said. “It’s very unlikely that the properties on each side will ever be developed in a like-type community. We simply, in Galt, over and over again can’t think that, if we keep on building houses, it can solve all our problems.”
Councilmember Curt Campion was concerned that the slated size of the homes was not big enough for what the design team called “executive housing.” The plan presented called for home sizes of 1,800 sq. ft. to 2,800 sq. ft.
Before the vote, Council included a conditional clause that homes would start at 2,400 sq. ft. and top out at 3,400 sq. ft., and the perimeter fencing would go back for further designs and be reviewed.
Galt Joint Union High School District Superintendent William Spalding also sent a letter for public comment with the district’s law firm, weighing in on the district being left out of the project. The elementary district was included in the mitigation negative declaration but not the high school district, according to Spalding.
“I’m not sure why,” Spalding said. “Like the elementary school district, our district has needs and our students have needs, and typically high school students are more expensive to teach and to house than young students. We ask respectfully that this oversight be corrected …”
Spalding said the response from new city and planning leadership was swift and supportive.
“We look forward to a stronger partnership and a place at the table to ensure that we are able to provide adequate and quality facilities to our students as our community grows,” Spalding said.