Los Banos annexation postponed 2 weeks

mgaytan@losbanosenterprise.comAugust 13, 2013 

— The City Council voted Wednesday to continue a pre-annexation development agreement item for Ronny’s Landscaping.

The owner, Ronny Navarro, was interested in participating in the Merced County Regional Enterprise Zone, which would allow the business to receive various tax credits.

In order to participate in the enterprise zone, Navarro was advised to obtain a general plan amendment, a zone change and a conditional use permit to be in compliance with the Merced County zoning code.

The property, which is a half acre, abuts the city limits on three sides. — unincorporated county property is to the north.

During this process, it was discovered that the well water was an imminent health threat. Due to high levels of fecal coliform and nitrates, Navarro was ordered by Merced County to stop using the well.

He then had three options. He could either apply for annexation to the city of Los Banos to receive city services, including water; request an out-of-boundary service agreement, allowing the property to use city water; or design and install a commercial well.

The commercial well option was abandoned because the property is not big enough to support its size.

Navarro applied for an out-of-boundary service agreement.

The Local Agency Formation Commission had objections to the out-of-boundary service agreement; however, certain mandated objectives couldn’t be met at the time. LAFCo stated that such agreements may only take place when there is an “immediate need and annexation is not feasible.” That disqualifies the project because annexation into the city is feasible, according to LAFco.

LAFCo staff believed that annexation into the city appeared to be the best alternative.

Navarro reinitiated the annexation process with the city. City staff, in order to protect the city’s interest, decided it was appropriate to have a pre-annexation development agreement and a deferred improvements agreement.

Assistant Planner Stacy Elms said the development agreement was postponed so it can be passed at the same time the council is scheduled to vote on a zoning change from ag to highway commercial. The matter will be on the council’s Aug. 21 agenda.

Reporter Marina Gaytan can be reached at (209)388-6562 or mgaytan@losbanosenterprise.com. Reporter Corey Pride contributed to this article.

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