Paul Petrovich, developer of the Gateway I commercial center at Woodland’s eastern edge (Costco, Target, etc.), suddenly has a new developer as his neighbor.

New Woodland Partnership (NWP), an investor group which owns the 22 acre parcel directly east of Gateway I, on March 6, 2009, requested “a General Plan Amendment in order to pursue annexation of [this] property and, ultimately, entitlement and development of a highway commercial center,” according to an associated letter from Mintier-Harnish, planning consultants for NWP.

On a contextual diagram appended to this letter, NWP’s conceptual proposal includes a large, retail (‘big-box’) building — similar in size and adjacent to Costco — plus a smaller retail building on the southern portion of this 22 acre parcel.

“Our goal is to work with the City to develop a project that is mutually beneficial,” continues this letter from Mintier-Harnish. “Our initial concern that we would like to discuss with the Planning Commission is site access. We understand that decisions were made in the past that have limited our ability to ensure adequate access for highway-serving commercial uses. We would like to work with the City to formulate a solution to site access that creates a logical circulation network[.]”

Lack of a quorum at its meeting of June 4 prevented the Woodland Planning Commission from considering this matter.

Paul Petrovich was present with various associates, presumably in anticipation of opposing — on a yet unknown basis — this request by NWP.

City staff confirmed that some form of contention or opposition was expected to arise from Petrovich, although no details were known.

Petrovich owns — all — of the relevant land surrounding the 22 acres involved with NWP’s commercial development proposal, essentially locking-up access to this parcel alongside the I-5 freeway.

Only a 24-foot wide: “Right-of-Way, Sewage, Water, and Utility Easement” currently exists along the southern edge of this NWP parcel, which is entirely insufficient access for its development within a rezoned (from Urban Reserve) Highway Commercial designation.

___  NWP’s “Preferred Access Solution”  ___

Bronze Star Drive, the road along the southern edge of the Gateway I commercial center, should be extended easterly and then northerly, along the southern and eastern boundary of NWP’s parcel, is the view of Mintier-Harnish.

Mintier-Harnish believes this road extension is now clearly justified under existing law, because development of a city-owned (flood-water) detention basin along a portion of the eastern boundary of NWP’s parcel — accomplished in connection with municipal support for development of Petrovich’s Gateway I commercial center — “triggered” a pertinent clause within a formal, legal access easement — recorded in 1968.

Its March 6 letter accompanying NWP’s request for a General Plan Amendment quotes this formal document as providing that: “this easement shall be expanded to 60 feet upon the rezone or development of any [relevant] property [ ] to either industrial, commercial, or residential.”

“We feel strongly that since the City-owned detention basin located directly to the east of the NWP Parcel has been developed to support an urban use (i.e., Woodland Gateway I), the condition to expand this easement to 60 feet has now been triggered,” describes Mintier-Harnish in its letter to the City of Woodland.

“To further support this argument, the NWP parcel is now surrounded on three sides by entitled urban uses (Woodland Gateway I development, City-owned infrastructure easement to the south, and City-owned detention basin to the east). We would like the City to confirm our understanding concerning this easement,” relates the letter, which outlines an “integrated commercial area, with logical access points between the properties. Our goal is to blend our project seamlessly with the neighboring commercial uses.”

Secondary access is described as an easterly extension of Maxwell road, through the northern portion of Petrovich’s more recently proposed Gateway II commercial center.

___  Petrovich’s Gateway II Commercial Center Proposal  ___

Petrovich has his own pending request for a General Plan Amendment, annexation and rezoning of 150 acres (adjacent to the south of his Gateway I development), being referred to as the Gateway II project (for auto/commercial uses).

City documents indicate that. “[Petrovich] has submitted additional funds and requests that work continue on an [environmental impact report], coordinating [various] technical studies,” related to his General Plan Amendment / annexation petition.

Already, an environmental (technical) study has been conducted on the subject of — odor — emanating from Woodland’s waste-water treatment plant, located nearby, in connection with Petrovich’s request to bring a Gateway II project inside the city limits.

The potential exists for the City of Woodland to require Petrovich to provide suitable access to NWP’s 22 acre parcel — as a condition of eventual approval for his proposed Gateway II development.

___  Lack of Quorum Leads to Discussions  ___

The Woodland Planning Commission meeting was adjourned after waiting for 15 minutes to potentially achieve a quorum. Its chairperson and City staff indicated that this matter will be on the agenda for its regular meeting of June 18.

One member of the contingent of persons associated with NWP suggested in passing that — in absence of a planning commission quorum to proceed with this item — at least some form of preliminary discussions was ensuing between themselves and Petrovich.

Awaiting a quorum, conversations initiated between NWP representatives and Petrovich and his associates, who were seated nearby.

Subsequent to the meeting, Petrovich and his associates were observed in discussion with a representative(s) of NWP — on the bench in front of Woodland City Hall.

___  Political Prospects for General Plan Amendments  ___

Woodland City Manager, Mark Deven, during the June 2 City Council meeting, remarked that the City is essentially operating on a General Plan that was created in 1996.

About $1.3 million is projected to be expended for accomplishment of a comprehensive update of the General Plan, announced Deven.

Feasibility for this goal is absent within a City budget that remains in crisis mode, facing still-declining revenues and a relatively uncertain economic climate.

In response to Deven’s comments at this council meeting, Councilmember Martie Dote expressed concern about prospects of various, accumulating, potential annexations occurring simply by amendment, without a new General Plan.

___   Another Political Hurdle  ___

Another considerable political hurdle for municipal annexations exists in the form of present prospects for a specific — tax-sharing agreement — between Woodland and Yolo County, a prerequisite for future annexations to proceed.

Budgets of both local governments are in an ongoing crisis, perhaps a pivotal dynamic within their eventual tax-sharing negotiations.

On May 19, the Woodland City Council approved: “Collaborative Planning Principles for Yolo County and the City of Woodland,” which are “intended to commit both local governments to formal discussion of issues that will facilitate economic development and address potential areas of concern associated with annexations, including fiscal impact, environmental mitigation and governance in advance of a project or annexation application,” according to the related staff report.

“Most specifically,” continues this staff report, “the Principles would facilitate development of a Memorandum of Agreement that would establish the process for implementation of development proposals within annexation lands and a renegotiated Master Tax Sharing Agreement.”

Within the most recent joint meeting between Woodland and Yolo County, Woodland City Manager, Mark Deven, advocated for progress related to this matter, expressing the City’s hope that the County (supervisors) would soon place this item on its regular agenda for consideration and eventual adoption.

Apparently, Supervisor (and former Assemblymember) Helen Thomson, who represents the Davis side of Yolo County, is somewhat upset about fiscal consequences to the County, related to Woodland’s recent annexations.

Thomson’s concern, among other dynamics of county consideration of this item, was the topic of brief discussion at this (joint) meeting.

Woodland (area) Supervisor, Matt Rexroad, said that he would attempt to make some progress with Supervisor Thomson’s reception of this matter, and pursue placement of these “Planning Principles,” already adopted by Woodland, on an upcoming county supervisors’ agenda.