Wednesday, June 11, 2014

To sell or not to sell? That's the Wood Colony question

What do the landowners in Wood Colony think about the City of Modesto's plans to bulldoze their farms and homes for commercial and industrial development? Wood Colony residents canvassed their neighbors in January 2014 and found that 92% of those who responded were against it. Since that time, the potential annexation zone was reduced by the Modesto City Council in March to 1,152 acres. So what do the landowners in the remaining annexation zone think?

Descended from early Wood Colony settlers, David Blickenstaff owns 9.96 acres along Beckwith and has been vocal about wanting to
David L. Blickenstaff Sr.
Source: Beyer High yearbook
sell. He spoke before LAFCO at the 1996 annexation attempt and also submitted a four-page essay entitled, "The Wood Colony Myth" in January 2014 to the Modesto City Council 
and city planning department. Two ironies of Mr. Blickenstaff referring to his community as a "myth" is that he drives an El Camino which says "Wood Colony" on the side and his father patented the "Wood Colony" almond varietal. Mr. Blickenstaff has already sold a large tract of land to the Diocese of Stockton for a new Catholic cemetery on Dakota near Beckwith. If he's successful in selling for development, what
could follow is the dreaded "domino effect" where when one sells, the others will follow as they don't want to farm next to a commercial development or office park. 

Also from a founding German Baptist Brethren family, several Grover family members own three large parcels along Dakota. Many of their neighbors think one or more Grovers would sell their lands for development, and while this may be true, there's at least one Grover family who owns land on Dakota and wrote to the Modesto City Council requesting to NOT be annexed into the city and to preserve Wood Colony as it is.

One of Bill Lyons Jr.'s subsidiaries,
Beckwith-Dakota LLC
The largest landowner in the Beckwith Triangle, former California Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Lyons Jr. is widely believed to want to sell his land there for development. However, when posed with that question by a Modesto Bee reporter, Mr. Lyons replied that he was, "...not aware of any talks between his family and the city" regarding developing his land in Wood Colony. As I pointed out in, "And The Rest of the Open Mic Story is..." can we take that to mean he is counting himself among "his family"? A Beckwith Road resident who would be adversely impacted if he did sell his land for development wrote him a letter in late April inquiring about that very topic but has yet to hear from him. Hopefully, the former Secretary of Ag will keep his land in ag. 

Further landowners and updates may be posted here, stay tuned...

No comments:

Post a Comment