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Redevelopment Eyed For Ammo Plant
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Most representatives of companies currently working within the Riverbank Ammunition Plant approved an amendment to the city's redevelopment project that will take in another 320 acres of the plant plus adjacent residential and agricultural land and thus divert redevelopment tax revenues from the county to the city.

The proposed amendment heard at a June 29 public hearing was adjourned to the July 6 meeting of the Riverbank City Council and Redevelopment Agency for a first reading and introduction of an ordinance.

Henry Meeks of the AM2T Company said on June 29 that in converting the former military base to a civilian industrial park, producing more jobs and being able to use redevelopment money for this purpose, Riverbank has a tremendous opportunity and a unique advantage over many cities that are struggling to survive in this difficult economy.

The resident of a Van Dusen Avenue ranchette, however, said he was not against producing more jobs but feared the ultimate intent was to annex the area to the city.

"My understanding is you want to take property taxes away from the county for the benefit of the city," he said. "This will take away our identity. We folks with animals for instance. There are already houses the other side of my street. Most of the people on my side don't want to sell out and retire."

"I know Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) will shut you off. They did that to your grandfather. He lost his water on Central Avenue," another speaker remarked to Councilmember Jesse James White.

Tim Ogden, city director of economic development and housing, commented the current action had nothing to do with annexation.

"But it is probably true it will eventually lead toward annexation which must go first to a vote of the people," he added.

Annexation is a very long process and cannot take place without the approval of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), Ogden said.

"The county says it would like to see annexation here within 10 years. But LAFCO says the city should not annex rural land. And the city has no incentive to annex and bear the cost of servicing residential properties," he noted.

Ogden also commented on two queries from the public. As for clearing up contamination at the plant, the Army has never questioned it is responsible for this and will continue cleanup and monitoring for probably 20 to 30 years, he said. On the question of what equipment it will take with it and what it will leave, the Army will take what it needs for its new plant at Rock Island, Ill., leave what it does not need, and get rid of what nobody wants.

Talking about OID's policy of cutting off irrigation water to properties as soon as they become annexed, City Manager Rich Holmer said that practice began in 1982 and has irritated many but might someday be changed again.

Redevelopment taxes collected on the new area may be spent on other parts of the redevelopment including the downtown project.

Councilmember White commented some citizens were upset at what they considered foolish waste of redevelopment taxes on the Del Rio Theater (now due to be demolished) and asked if they could mount a referendum to stop use of further redevelopment taxes on the new area including the plant. A consulting attorney on redevelopment for the city said that could not happen, as the areas were separate.

The current Riverbank Reinvestment or Redevelopment Project covers 1,230 acres.

The Agency initiated the latest action to bring within the redevelopment area (and repair) parts of the ammunition plant that were previously developed but cannot be used in their present condition because of substandard infrastructure and buildings that do not meet state building standards.