Modesto council chambers, normally empty on Tuesday nights, were instead full of passionate farm families desperate to save Wood Colony from becoming a business park.
That is a consideration in the council’s long-term view for the city and one that could uproot Theresa Heinrich’s family almond farm.
” I guess we’ll need new jobs … It’s pretty serious. It’s unbelievable. I don’t think any of us can believe that we’re here,” said Heinrich, when asked how she might cope if the park became a reality.
The slated council decision was only about funding an environmental study on possible new land use, but some council members were not on board.
“Patchwork is great when you’re making a quilt, but patchwork doesn’t work when you’re building a city,” said District Three Councilman Dave Lopez.
“I’m a little concerned about the order of operations and how we’re working here, because it’s been my experience when you get those operations out of order you end up with the wrong answer,” said District Six Councilman David Cogdill.
But they could not persuade four of their colleagues to study Modesto as a whole and commit to a comprehensive general plan update – so the patchwork approach continued.
“I don’t want to kick the can down the road. I want to make a decision,” said Modesto Mayor Garrard Marsh.
Father Frank Murrilo’s concerned about the students that would disappear from Hart-Ransom school if Wood Colony got a make-over.
“It’s a great learning environment. We’ve got a close-knit environment at the school,” said Murrilo.
It could be a long time before historic Wood Colony could change, but residents are prepared to fight it every second.
Public comment finally ended around midnight. Council members then voted to proceed with the environmental study while carving out some ranchettes out of the plan.