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Boswell Throws In Towel on Yokohl Ranch

February 1,2018-

First proposed in 2005, a plan for a new 36,000 resident ‘ new town’ in the Yokhol Valley, some 15 miles west of Visalia, is no longer moving forward.

Property owner and developer JG Boswell notified the County of Tulare this week they would withdraw their application for the controversial 10,000 home foothill development.

foothill city will not happen

foothill city will not happen

A letter, dated January 31, 2018, from CEO James W. Boswell, addressed to Steven Worthley, Chairman of the BOS said “market conditions and economic forecasts do not justify the financial investment necessary to develop and build out the Yokhol Ranch project.”

The news comes after Boswell spent a decade developing plans and completing a multi-year environmental review draft study that is now complete -likely setting in motion a decision in the new year by the company to throw in the towel.

“Following in-depth reviews and analysis  of the plan,  we believe the project  would not meet the financial  and strategic goals of the company” says Boswell’s letter.

Planner and Visalia City Council member Greg Collins says he had long harbored “grave concerns” over the viability of the project.

The decision comes only a few months after another ‘new town’ project in neighboring Kings County, called Quay Valley, also suddenly withdrew their application from that county

Both may have been impacted by fears of drought and the competition for water as the Valley faces a continuing uncertain rain forecast, long term. A new groundwater ordinance is expected to decrease pumping options for farm land in the future, further tightening the water market. Some farmers  are choosing to sell their water allotment rather than use it.

Collins notes that the market for home builders is tight in the Valley, with low margins, and “Boswell may have concluded they could not expect to charge what they needed for these rural homes.”

“Convincing people to move out there when you have to get into your car to go anywhere – a restaurant ,movie or Costco could be another hurdle” he figures.

The big project also faced high upfront development costs including a water treatment plant, package sewer facility and special service districts. 

Boswell does have water rights it can decide to use from Lake Kaweah but hinted it may decide to use that water for its massive ag operations in Tulare and Kings counties. Their letter said they now expect to direct” resources and efforts to our core agricultural businesses.”

Looking ahead, the company indicated that it will continue operating their cattle operation, Yokohl Valley Ranch Company, and, in doing so,“will continue to be a good steward and neighbor in Tulare County since 1963” when they bought the property.

Then there is the issue of environmental concerns over the development of this pristine valley with an organized group of area residents likely ready to force years of litigation to “Save Yokohl Valley”.

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