|Bloomington Rialto Negotiating Land Buy Back|| || |
|Wednesday, 18 July 2007|
By Chris Levister
Plan Brings Together Unlikely Allies
Bloomington's near 45-year quest to become a city may not be dead after all. The Bloomington Incorporation Commission (BIC), a group of residents pushing to turn a 6-1/2 square mile area into a city said they are negotiating with the city of Rialto to buy back a 165-acre site recently annexed to the city. The site owned by developer Young Homes is at the center of a tug-of-war over land the Bloomington group wants as part of its city.
In February, the Rialto City Council granted Young Homes permission to build 726 homes, parks, tot-lots and equestrian trails on the site located north of El Rivino Road on both sides of Cactus Avenue.
Cityhood proponents failed to stop the annexation after they could not meet a Feb. 28 Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) deadline to submit application materials and fees for a basic feasibility study, falling $80,000 short of the $109,000 they needed.
BIC president Eric Davenport told members of the Bloomington Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) last week, the organization met twice with Rialto officials and is drafting a proposal to buy back the Young Homes site and contract with the city for services.
"We plan to ask Rialto to release the Bloomington site from its sphere of influence. If they agree to that, we will cross our biggest political hurdle."
Under the plan Bloomington would buy back the land and pay Rialto over a period of several years using property tax revenues from the Young Homes project. Residents would contract with Rialto for road work, policing, fire, code enforcement, lighting and sewer.
Davenport called the plan a win-win with a silver lining. That silver lining is Young Homes chairman and CEO Reggie King seen by many cityhood proponents as a foe.
King has offered to pay the remaining $80,000 in study fees if Bloomington activists come to an agreement with Rialto.
"Some folks in Bloomington are upset over the annexation of land into Rialto. They won't like it," said King "I see my role as a facilitator. Judging from the deep divisions heard here tonight I don't think any of us have enough information to know whether a city would be really good or not in the final analysis."
King says paying for a feasibility study will enhance his site development plans and bring clarity to an issue overshadowed by emotions, fear, mistrust, misleading and incomplete data.
"For Rialto/Bloomington to elevate itself they have to attract investment capital and the investment community is not going to go where there is uncertainty. They need to know the real tax implications and how best to use the land," said King.
"He could have easily kicked us to the curb instead Mr. King has emerged as a voice of reason," said Davenport. He said King quietly worked to bring the opposing sides to the negotiating table. "He believes some part of Bloomington needs to be preserved in its rural atmosphere. He wants what's best for his former hometown - Bloomington."
Davenport says he came up with the buy back plan after residents and area business leaders called on BIC to continue its pursuit of cityhood during a packed town hall meeting held recently at Bloomington High School.
"I asked residents 'do you want us to continue'. The place erupted into a sustained 'yes' the response was a resounding call to keep going," Davenport said.
To win cityhood, state law requires that residents show community support and a tax base to fund government services. But Bloomington supporters struggled last year to gather 1,782 valid signatures on an incorporation petition. And a preliminary study by LAFCO in February 2006 concluded that the city would run a $1.4 million deficit from the moment of incorporation.
Bloomington has tried and failed to incorporate seven times since 1963. Residents began the latest incorporation effort more than two years ago, frustrated over seeing rural and agricultural land disappear and their community squeezed by neighboring Rialto and Fontana.
Davenport says Rialto could use revenue it receives from Bloomington to mitigate the estimated one million dollar upfront investment in public infrastructure required for the Young Homes project.
"This opens the door for Rialto to get money from Bloomington while allowing the community to keep its land." He said some of those funds could go toward solving Rialto's costly water contamination problem.
"Everybody involved would benefit from a clear direction, whether that means formulating a community plan or self determination. I'm willing to step to the line to help inform the discussion," said King
He urged Bloomington to actively pursue the development of a trail system, which he believes would offer a layer of protection against future annexation attempts of the equestrian friendly hamlet dotted with large lots, horse ranches, chicken farms and nurseries.
Many Bloomington homeowners say they worry about paying higher taxes and losing their community's equestrian heritage. Others resent the divisions caused by the pursuit of cityhood. Without a quorum MAC board members postponed what is largely an advisory vote on Bloomington's latest plan.
As for the next chapter, Mayor Grace Vargas says Rialto is open to negotiations.
With Reggie King nudging the process, Bloomington's dream of incorporation could go from clinically dead to confirmation that they are more than just pockets of desire.
BS Ranch Perspective:
Looks like the Council that was put together for Bloomington's City Interest wants to try to purchase the land back so that they can get their Talks of their own city underway again! I believe that they should have their own City, After all it is like that of the fight of the Big Three, when Tucker, came in with some wonderful Idea's for the Car industry. The Engine and the design that Tucker had was so far ahead of his time, that he had great Gas Mileage, and the Tucker just might have taken a pretty good fight to that of Ford and Chevy Motor Industry, they were so threatened that they used the court system to make Tucker go away, Bankrupt at that time and his car a flop, but he was able to finish the 50 Cars that he said he was going to finish, but the court said that it was all just to late, even though he truly was within the deadline of the Court date.
The Bloomington City Interest has the big Wigs of Rialto and Fontana on Both sides of them trying to keep them down, not just that they both are unwilling to allow them to use any or part of their Sewage system for their City of Bloomington, because the use of Septic Tanks are a thing of the past, and since the county doesn't have a Sewer system to contract with Bloomington on, they are stuck almost, but this is a last ditch effort to save their fight ot have a city!!! I hope they win and become a city!!