Council Imposes $90,000 in Fees on St. Peter’s Property

St Peter's Catholic Church

St Peter’s Catholic Church

The Dixon City Council on Tuesday, May 27, adopted an “Agricultural Mitigation” ordinance, requiring payment of a $4,000 per acre fee for any property currently zoned for agriculture to be annexed to the city and re-zoned for other purposes.

The issue was on the “Consent Calendar” presuming no objection would occur. However, Dave Scholl – the publisher of this newspaper – did object, requiring the ordinance be opened for debate.

As he did when the ordinance was first before the Council, Scholl noted the ordinance would not create or preserve “one square inch” of agricultural land – but would instead be an unjust transfer of wealth from churches to wealthy farmers..

He pointed out the city already has enough undeveloped land within its boundaries for all the likely development for the next several decades – BUT the actual effect of the ordinance would be to penalize two Dixon churches – Dixon Community Church (DCC) and St. Peter Catholic Church. The only properties that would be affected by the fees are land owned by St. Peter or adjoining DCC. To expand, DCC would have to seek annexation of agricultural land adjoining it.

St. Peter is impacted to the tune of $90,000 in fees if it seeks to develop about 22 + acres purchased over 25 years ago with the intent of eventually building a new church and possibly a parochial school. If the parish were to sell the land to a developer, it would be offered much less for the land as the developer would know the fees would have to be paid. That fact lowers the current market value of the land by about that $90,000 – severely reducing the parishes assets.

An additional 23 + acres adjoining St. Peter’s property is owned by St. Isidore investment group, whose principals are close to the Diocese or Sacramento. With that land, there would be sufficient area to build a Catholic High School. But that property would also be subject to another $90,000 plus in the new fees.

During the Morning View hysteria, those properties were included in the acreage supposedly needed to build the film studio – and Dixon city officials were involved in efforts to include those properties.

Only Mayor Jack Batchelor debated the “Agriculture Mitigation” fee with Scholl. Batchelor showed his disdain for St. Peter’s saying the fees wouldn’t hurt the church because the land had been tax-free for decades under church ownership – so the fees on the church would only make up for the lack of property taxes.

Scholl is an active member of St. Peter Church, and was the person who first put Morning View in touch with the parish and the St. Isidore’s group.

Jerry Casteñon – who is also a parishioner at St. Peter – seconded the motion to pass the ordinance, despite the serious financial burden it puts on the parish. The motion to pass was made by Dane Besneatte. Batchelor and councilman Steve Bird joined them in voting for the Ordinance. Only Thom Bogue opposed.

In other business, most of the meeting time involved a new “Water Code” – which has to be in place for the City to take over the water system currently co-owned with the Solano Irrigation District.

The points of contention were provisions in the code allowing city employees to go onto private property with just 24 hours written notice, and a provision requiring “efficient” use of water. Public comment showed concern those were violation of property rights. Vice-Mayor Thom Bogue was particularly concerned, insisting on protection of those rights. After much debate the issue was partially resolved by amending the code proposal to require “good cause” to enter private property.

The council also approved amendments to the City Sign Ordinance, allowing illuminated Billboard Freeway signs to be lit 24 hours a day – rather than shutting off between 11 pm and 6 pm. Such a sign is being built on city-owned land along I-80 and N. Lincoln Street.

Residents in the area objected at the previous council meeting that the sign would create “light pollution” disturbing the neighborhood, and that trees were removed to accommodate the sign. Residents stated the trees helped reduce freeway noise.

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