Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Cannery site right for business

I noticed the recent controversy over ConAgra making a contingent donation to a developer/organization that is interested in developing land on the edge of Davis for a technology park.

Pam Marrone mentioned in the paper recently that biotech firms that might locate in that technology park need adjacent agricultural land for greenhouses with lights that bother nearby homeowners.

The controversy with development of land on the edge of Davis is that Davis planning already had moved forward with conservation easements for that property. I can’t help but remember how my City Council hero, Sue Greenwald, fought for years to keep the ConAgra Cannery site zoned as industrial land so that biotech or light industrial businesses could move into that site and utilize the adjacent train tracks.

I am mystified as to why the cannery site and adjacent agricultural land can’t be used for the purposes that Marrone mentions. The greenhouses could easily be located far from adjacent homes. People who might work there would be an easy bike ride from existing housing and UC Davis.

All I can figure is that the owners of The Cannery site and the adjacent agricultural lands want top-dollar development, i.e., houses, on that land. ConAgra’s contigent donation to encourage development on conserved farmland at the edge of town makes sense in light of Sue’s ideas for biotech on The Cannery site. Where is Sue when we need her?

Ellen Dean

Davis

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 2 comments

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  • testNovember 15, 2013 - 6:33 pm

    Too far from the freeway. Covell can't handle the traffic. Landowners aren't interested.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich RifkinNovember 15, 2013 - 10:56 pm

    I agree with Ellen Dean and don't buy the "too far from freeway" argument. If the landowner wanted to attract a reasearch & development user--say a biotech or software company interested in building a 100 acre corporate campus--I am sure ConAGra could find the right business to move in. No software company or research outfit needs freeway access. A heavy industrial user or a manufacturer, on the other hand, likely does prefer to be close to I-80. ....... Ellen's letter contains the most important reason why ConAgra never would pursue that sort of development: "All I can figure is that the owners of The Cannery site and the adjacent agricultural lands want top-dollar development, i.e., houses, on that land." I think Ellen has it nailed. If the City of Davis entitles that acreage for residential development--as is proposed--the land will immediately be worth 2, 3 or 4 times as much as it is now--zoned for high-tech industrial. So it's hard to blame ConAgra for pursuing a plan which makes it the most money; and it's not hard then to understand why ConAgra has continually promoted the notion that no industrial user would want to locate there, away from the freeway. They say that since the property is "surrounded by houses," it can no longer work as anything other than residential development. But, of course, that is bogus. None of properties to the west or south would be harmed by an R&D campus on the ConAgra land. ........ My own view is that if the Council wants to allow residential housing there, then that's fine with me, too. But I think if the answer is no, it would have saved everyone a lot of work (and the applicant a lot of money) by making that clear from the start, and making it known that the zoning was never going to change. If ConAgra believed that, it would then have an incentive to make industry work, there.

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