Mixes use would include “Business Incubator”; High Tech Labs; Hotel; Civic Center, School, Mixed Housing
Questions raised about population growth, secrecy.
Dixon could become a major player in the burgeoning Tech industry if a project comes to fruition which was revealed at a special joint meeting of the City Council and the Planning Commission this past Wednesday.
A special meeting was held earlier in the day with property owners adjacent to the project area and those impacted by re-routing Vaughn Road. The property owners meeting lasted almost two hours. The council/commission meeting lasted over three hours. While reactions were generally positive, there were some concerns the proponents will have to resolve.
The proposal is to build a research, development, production and “incubator” campus in Dixon’s Northeast Quadrant – between Interstate 80 and Pedrick Road, just east of WalMart.
The developer is Frank Stronach through his “Stronach Group.” He previously owned Magna International the largest manufacturer in the world of automotive parts. The 260 acre site was originally purchased by Stronach through his Magna Entertainment subsidiary to build a major horse racing track. That idea died when Dixon voters passed several initiatives against the track. Stronach has sold Magna and is now focusing on real estate and “smart growth” communities.
Cleve Livingston, who is heading up the project for Stronach, provided detailed maps of the proposed development (one shown to the right). A new north–south road – Professional Drive – will be built from Vaughn Road along the east side of the project, linking with an extended Dorset Drive and an extended Mistler Road and connecting to Pedrick Road. The plan also includes re-routing Vaughn road so it does not cross the Union Pacific tracks, but instead will curve before the tracks and connect directly with Pedrick Road.
Livingston said that after the defeat of the race track, the company has been trying to determine the highest and best use for the property. Offers from several potential buyers were made, but they were for warehouse and distribution sites, which Stornach believed weren’t the best option. The recession also delayed development for many years.
About half the property will become housing – both rentals and for sale – including “affordable housing” and housing tailored to students and faculty. The plan includes a hotel and conference center, an elementary school, retail shops, restaurants, a civic center, park, grocery store and other amenities.
Livingston also said transportation will be a major element of the plan. Within the area, everything would be within a ten minute walk and ride services to other areas of the city and nearby communities would be included.
The proponents hope UC Davis will become involved, especially with research and development facilities as well as assisting startup tech and other businesses.
Both the Stronach team and city officials estimated just the planning and “entitlement” through General Plan and Zoning amendments. City Manag er Jim Lindley said those steps would likely be concurrent with General Plan updates already scheduled. The process would also include producing a Development Agreement and take about 18 months. Construction would not begin for about another two years after those steps were completed.
Planning Commissioners, while generally favorable, noted the estimated 4,000 new residents and the number of new housing units would violate Dixon’s Measure B growth limits allowing only about 200 new housing units each year.
There was also strong criticism of the secrecy used by the city to prevent public knowledge prior to the presentations. City officials – particularly City Manager Jim Lindley and City Attorney Doug White – who refused to honor Public Record Requests made by Independent Voice Investigative Reporter and Columnist Michael Ceremello.
The information Ceremello sought was readily at hand and could have been quickly provided, but those officials claimed they could withhold it for ten days if they wished – an excuse the city is more frequently using to delay complying with records request. In fact the Public Record Act requires records to be provided during Regular Business Hours upon request. Ten days are allowed only if there is concern particular records are exempt for disclosure. If more time is needed to gather records, the requester must be told and given an estimated time for provision of records.