Gerri Martin Comments on The Horta Property

(Note: The following comments are from August 2007)

I put in a public document request with the City of Livingston on Aug 8th for all records regarding purchase of the Horta property. This is the 54 acres of farmland that is outside of the Cities current and future sphere of influence. You know, the disposable farmland that Livingston wants to fill with sewer water.

I received copies of the following documents, listed by the date on them.

A preliminary title report dated March 10, 2006.

A real estate purchase and sale agreement dated March 24, 2006

Staff report & City council meeting minutes for June 20, 2006

Grant Deed dated June 22, 2006.

Apparently, this was never discussed in a public forum until the city council voted to spend 1,408,543 for this property as a consent item, even though the city was negotiating with the seller as early as March 2006. Either that or I didn’t get all the documents. No wonder it is so hard for the citizens to figure out what goes on at city hall.

I went back to City Hall and requested the environmental impact report for this property. Was told by City Manager there wasn’t one.

According to the real estate purchase and sale agreement, there was to be a Phase I Environmental Report, and engineering review and approval. Either these two things were not done, or I was not given access to the documents.

According to the staff report I did receive, the money to purchase this land will come from development impact fees. Future developer fees, as I understand it.

So basically, as I see it, Ranchwood and River Ranch developers are going to give the city money to purchase agricultural land outside the cities sphere of influence. Of course the ag land they will buy to develop will turn a great profit for them, wouldn’t want to lose a dollar to a silly little matter of needing a sewer pond for all their new homes.

According to budget page 431 Livingston has capacity to serve its city population now. Developers must pay for any expansion. I say the expansion should not only be paid for by developers, they should provide the land.

Livingston’s proposed Wastewater Plan is targeting another 100 acres of ag land (outside their sphere of influence). I have requested documents on the background of the decision to expand to the west, instead of east. I have not received one item. I have a feeling this is also a back room decision, with no public trail to follow. No engineer would look at that sewer plant, and decide to add sewer ponds over 1 mile away and up hill from the plant, when there is ample land to the east. Land that is already lost to farming. So much for the stated objective in the Cities General Plan to preserve prime farmland and maintain the scenic beauty surrounding the city.


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