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Advisory votes for innovation park sites may be off the table

By From page A1 | July 13, 2014

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What: Davis City Council meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.

Watch it live: Comcast Channel 16, AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 or on the city’s website at www.cityofdavis.org/media

A development consortium that sparked a controversy with the City Council by asking to amend Measure R, and then backed off and called on the city to place an advisory vote on the November ballot, has retreated again, saying it doesn’t want it.

The move by Ramco Enterprises frees the council from previous pressure to make the vote happen or potentially lose Schilling Robotics, a large and growing high-tech manufacturer in town. The City Council can now consider Ramco’s and other options unencumbered, including a later vote on an innovation park of its choosing.

Ramco’s new position will be discussed when the Davis City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.

Previously, the council unanimously voted to appoint two council members to an ad hoc subcommittee charged with identifying the overarching expectations for innovation park submittals. It also voted to ask innovation park development teams to submit advisory  measure language and demonstrate a financial commitment to paying for its placement on the ballot.

The council also added a 25-acre city parcel that abuts Ramco’s lands along Mace Boulevard in the potential advisory measure, but required that it have a financial backer that wasn’t the city.

There are three pre-proposal type submittals: One is for the potential Mace 200 proposal, a 185- to 230-acre site located around 26295 Mace Blvd. promoted by Ramco Enterprises, The Buzz Oates Group of Companies and Barbara Bruner.

The second is a submittal for the Davis Innovation Center, a T-shaped 207-acre site abutting Sutter Davis Hospital in West Davis, by Hines and SKK Developments.

The third is a yet-to-be-named 200-acre concept at Davis Ranch, a bit east of El Macero and on the south side of Interstate 80,  submitted by Capital Corridor Ventures and AKT Investments Inc. In that proposal, the family of Angelo Tsakopoulos would donate 200 acres to the city of Davis for the purposes of developing an innovation center.

Originally, the Mace 200 group of developers, led by Dan Ramos of Ramco Enterprises, looked at Measure R with trepidation. Their worry, stated to the City Council in letters and at previous public meetings, was that without some assurance from the public that their project was looked at favorably, it might be foolhardy to invest more than $1 million in environmental studies and other preparatory work to make it to a Measure R vote of the people.

Citing the need for equal treatment, the other development teams asked that, even though they opposed changing Measure R or engaging in advisory votes, they should be given the same opportunities that the Mace 200 team would get.

The Measure R process sends developments on agricultural land outside the city limits to a vote of the people. Previously, two votes involving residential developments — Covell Village and Wildhorse Ranch — were rejected.

In a July 9 letter to the City Council, Ramos outlined the decision made by the development team and Tyler Schilling, president of Schilling Robotics. The company could be a major tenant if the Mace 200 project becomes a reality.

“Critical to our decision to withdraw our advisory measure request, at least for now, is a determination to devote our full time and energy to processing an official application for our proposal,” Ramos wrote.

“Our intent is to move forward as expeditiously as reasonable with that application, with the anticipation that we will be ready, pending council approval, for a Measure R vote in November 2015.”

Ramos went on to request that the city provide an environmental review consultant by September. Ramos reiterated that Schilling, who spoke in support of an advisory vote at the last City Council meeting, is in favor of the new approach.

“And you should know that, although not his preferred course, Tyler Schilling supports this course of action since he believes that our expeditiously moving forward on an application presents his best opportunity for securing the expansion space which he needs — in Davis — on a timely basis,” Ramos wrote.

Ramos added that the Mace 200 development team also will conduct public workshops in July and August to get an idea of public opinion for the Mace 200 concept. The feedback will be used to shape the application proposal, he wrote.

— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews

Dave Ryan

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