STOCKTON — After lengthy testimony from the public and discussion from city staff and its leaders, the Stockton City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to approve the Envision Stockton General Plan 2040.

Councilwoman Christina Fugazi cast the dissenting vote, stating the community has been against any kind of major development north of Eight Mile Road since plans to update the General Plan began two years ago.

Fugazi said over the course of some 100 community meetings and workshops, she was under the assumption only 200 acres of land on the north end of the city would be developed.

“At no time during these meetings or workshops was 3,800 acres given to the residents,” Fugazi said. “What was discussed was infill. What most people think is infill is filling empty lots throughout the city.”

Fugazi’s comments came after dozens of community members, including residents, environmental activists, developers and attorneys, spent an hour making their case for support and opposition of the proposal to potentially develop 3,800 acres of underdeveloped land north of Eight Mile Road.

Richard Ahbood, a member of Campaign for Common Ground, said the Economic Education Enterprise zone is completely opposite to the Alternative C council recommended in 2016, which called for a focus on infill and reinvestment of underdeveloped areas and downtown.

“This is the direct opposite of what people in this community said they wanted,” he said. “People proclaimed a desire for a permanent ag belt between Lodi and Stockton. Now this has morphed into 3,800 acres with the potential to build 25,000 homes. Is this area really a prime location for an enterprise zone? We already have an industrial zone which meets the criteria for this kind of development. This seems to be another avenue to sprawl.”

Former Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston also opposed the Economic Education Enterprise portion of the general plan. She said there was a steady push to keep building northward since the 1970s, which has been detrimental to the rest of the city.

“In 2018, there is still plenty of undeveloped land in the current general plan,” she said. “If a major institution wants to come here, you better make sure you have some kind of written contract in place before you start building out there.”

David Kwong, director of the community development department, said the site in question, which spans to the east and west of Interstate 5, has been zoned for urban development for the past decade.

He said designating the property as an Economic Education Enterprise zone places strict regulations on any future development there.

He added any homes planned for the zone are dependent on a major employer or California State University campus coming to the site.

Supporters of the economic education enterprise zone said approval of the general plan would allow the city to increase its population and attract new employers.

“It’s important to note that approval of general will allow for the possibility of a CSU to come here,” David Nelson, senior vice president of A.G. Spanos Companies, said. “Approval of the GP also sends a strong message that Stockton is a community where businesses are welcome. However, approval does not allow builders to just start developing. Projects will be vetted by staff, the planning commission and the council.”

Resident Julie Cox supported the general plan, stating people are commuting out of Stockton for work, and the city isn’t receiving much needed sales tax dollars.

She said the Economic Educational Enterprise zone would get people to spend their money in town.

“I feel we need to really look at this, Julie Cox said. “If we do vote tonight to put in a hospital or large employer, as long as it’s truly going, then I think we can open it up to housing. We need to make Stockton a place where businesses really want to come, and we need to entertain the idea that this is the place to be.”

Contact reporter Wes Bowers at (209) 546-8258, or wbowers@recordnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesBo26.