An expedited plan to annex and develop an area adjacent to the Central Valley city of Patterson has run into an unanticipated obstacle, as city officials removed a proposal that would preserve agricultural land.

The mitigation plan originally called for the city to set aside one acre of land for agricultural purposes in exchange for each acre targeted for industrial and commercial development. The 1,100 acre annexation would increase the city’s area by about a third and would be used for an industrial park expansion. That expansion, it is hoped, would help bring about 10,000 new jobs to the area.

However, the sudden and relatively unexplained removal of the agricultural mitigation is giving the area’s LAFCO some pause, as it was originally expected to be included. Recent annexations and developments approved in the area that did not include ag mitigation have been subjected to lawsuits.

The City believes that it is protected by any legal challenges due to an indemnification clause in an agreement with the developer. Additionally, the area under consideration had already been included in the Patterson General Plan which called for development.

However, county supervisor Jim DeMartini has been an advocate for preserving agricultural land, which serves as the area’s largest economic engine.

Read the full article at the Modesto Bee.