Agricultural operations permitted in Village 5

Ag overlay included in project
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Village 5, an 8,200-home development planned for north of Lincoln, will include a special provision designed to protect agriculture in the area.

The city of Lincoln plans to apply to the Placer County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) for annexation of the area into the city limits. Typically, agricultural operations and practices within the city limits would be phased out over a period of three years.

Lincoln senior planner Steve Prosser said the provision, called an agriculture overlay, would allow agricultural practices to remain in the area.

“The purpose is to allow for the continuation of ag uses in the area to be annexed into the city and to allow for new ag uses on the same land,” Prosser said. “The ag overlay is an additional layer of regulation, in this case to relax regulations in place for annexation. Traditionally, overlays restrict usage.”

Richland Communities, the Village 5 developer, has worked with ag overlays in San Bernardino County in the communities of Ontario and Chino. However Lincoln’s Village 5 will be the first time that the company has incorporated the land use designation in one of their projects.

“Those two cities initiated the ag overlay which we had the luxury to develop in,” said Craig Cristina, Richland Communities’ senior vice-president of land entitlement. “It has worked well.”

Cristina said 2,000 homes have been built within Ontario’s agriculture overlay.

“The vast majority of that ag preserve has farming and dairy, many dairy farms,” Cristina said. “And the most stringent setbacks are required for dairy. Agriculture continues to coexist there.”

It is natural to be skeptical of the overlay, according to Cristina.

“I’d love to say trust me on this. There have been no ag overlays in Lincoln so it is hard to point to an example,” Cristina said. “The Lincoln version of the ag overlay will have even more permitted uses for agricultural users than the Southern California jurisdictions.”

“The ag overlay is purely for the benefit of agricultural properties,” said Cristina, adding that the provision was added in response to feedback from Village 5 landowners. “The developer is not getting a benefit from this. Our agenda is to build out the city’s vision. The ag overlay is really one-sided and for the side of agricultural properties and businesses.”

Without the provision of the overlay, Cristina said, agricultural operations and practices would become existing, non-conforming uses once the land is annexed and would face a three-year expiration.

“It’s important to note that without the ag overlay, (the city) truly would force agriculture out of the project area,” Cristina said. “The ag overlay supersedes the more stringent rules the city has to make users conform to code.”