By Per Peterson
The Broad Acres home development project has given birth to a strong working relationship between the City of Tracy and the Pipestone Development Company. However, the Tracy Economic Development Authority last week began a discussion of the importance of creating a new development agreement for future projects.
“We need to get into development agreements a little more,” Tracy Community Development Director Jeff Carpenter said at last Wednesday’s EDA meeting. “I’m not going to downplay what the Pipestone Development Company has done for the community — they stuck their neck out to the tune of $600,000 — and it worked out well. But we need to have more of a development agreement with somebody, not just with them but with anybody else also.”
Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen said a development agreement is considered a legal document and would essentially protect the City if plans on a certain project fall through, or another party fails to live up to an agreement.
“You want to ensure that things happen the way that you want them exactly to happen,” he said. “This is really the best practice for how you do development moving forward on any kind of piece of property. It’s something we want to do the next time we have that opportunity.”
A development agreement, Hansen said, could include things like right of first refusal language, an option to buy a piece of land by a certain date, or who is responsible to pay for utilities and infrastructure.
“It might include potential incentives that you might get, like a tax abatement, or tax increment financing,” said Hansen. “There’s a lot of things it could cover.”
Hansen agreed with Carpenter that everything has worked out very well with the Pipestone Development Company on the Broad Acres project, but he also knows that without written agreements, things can go south.
“This is just about protecting us,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow, because we’re all honest people, we expect people to do what they say and say what they do, but that’s not always the case, unfortunately anymore.”
The EDA is basically now operating under gentlemen’s agreements, as opposed to an actual binding agreement. Creating a development agreement policy would start at the EDA level, but would also eventually have to be approved by the Tracy City Council.
With the EDA continuing its drive to bring more housing to Tracy, Hansen said it’s critical to move ahead on creating a policy that brings development agreements into the fold.
Carpenter also said he would like to have another open house at Broad Acres this summer to give the public a look at the occupied homes and the two open lots the EDA owns. He said the four current owners have agreed to open their homes to the public.