The Patterson City Council will have a robust development project to evaluate as the Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a redesignation of approximately 131.4 acres of land located south of Sperry Avenue and west of Baldwin Road.
The applicant, Baldwin Ranch Development Co. LLC, proposed to redesignate 32.9 acres of the site adjacent to Sperry Avenue to a General Commercial Zone. The remaining 98.5 acres on the southern side of the project area would be changed to Medium Density Residential. All zones were previously earmarked for Light Industrial prior to this proposed change.
The changes would make way for a total of approximately 449 single-family housing lots, internal roadways, space for approximately 300,000 square feet of commercial development, four parks and a storm drain basin.
“What we have is commercial and residential added in addition to the industrial component. This is envisioned in a way to allow the developer the utmost flexibility to manage their project with city approval,” City Attorney Nubia Goldstein said.
Goldstein stated that the project will be subject to subsequent approvals and that there are “specific triggers and requirements” that are embedded in the proposal depending on what path the developer takes.
The site is surrounded by residential housing to the east, businesses north of Sperry Avenue, the Delta Mendota Canal to the west, as well as the city’s Corporation Yard and agricultural lands to the south.
A project assessment included an addendum to the West Patterson Project Environmental Impact Project Report. The evaluation also determined that the project would not require any significant provisions to the Environmental Impact Report.
“What we concluded is that essentially this project does not have more significant impacts than were previously disclosed. We also identified what mitigation measures in that document would be carried over into this document,” said Grant Gruber of First Carbon Solutions, a group hired to assess the land for residential and commercial use.
One specific issue with the development was how to reconcile the plan to build a hotel on the plot’s commercial portion while preserving privacy for the residential lots surrounding it.
“The orientation of that hotel could have either real or perceived privacy issues,” said Director of Community Development David James.
James revealed city staff worked with developers to come to an agreement that the proposed park area between the hotel and the residential area will act as a “buffer” zone. Staff asked for a requirement of a 12-foot swath area where trees can be planted to help insulate residents in the new neighborhoods from the multi-story hotel that is proposed for the site.
“The hotel is still a viable project, and as of this week, they still intend to build a hotel. They fully intend to build a hotel there, at least that is what has been communicated to us,” said James. The merchant builder of residential houses will be required to disclose to potential buyers of the hotel’s presence. “We feel very strongly that this approach we are taking, we can put lots there, and we can preserve the privacy of those future residents,” said James.
Commissioner Eric Bendix referenced a similar issue with the Reflections community’s concerns of privacy when the Hampton Inn was built along Sperry Avenue. He stated that the contention point had been “solved,” stating that an amicable settlement could also be found in the new proposed residential and commercial area.
James addressed the topic of the Reflections community.
“We met with the association and several of the homeowners, just private owners, and I think there were some initial misconceptions about the hotel, and almost everyone we met with walked away satisfied that their privacy wasn’t going to be undermined. I feel pretty confident that the issue in the Reflections area has been resolved.”
Bendix also brought up a concern about the newly proposed street formation that would occur along Sperry Avenue. The proposal has Haggerty Drive being expanded and running through Sperry, creating another intersection along the frequently used street vein heading into Patterson.
Bendix proposed that instead of another set of traffic signals, the intersection includes a roundabout instead or that Haggerty Drive simply bends and ends on Sperry Avenue rather than run through the intersection to avoid another traffic signal.
Chairman Ron West agreed with the idea of a roundabout, but Patterson resident Mia Mendes pushed back against the desire for a roundabout stating that she is not a fan of more roundabouts.
“I don’t think they add to the smoothness at all. I wanted to start counting how many times I heard the term roundabouts. I hope you use those sparingly,” said Mendes.
Other concerns brought forth by Mendes included if the new proposal included more funding for emergency services. She also questioned what kind of impact the project would have on groundwater supplies.
“Page 76 on the agenda states that there is less than a significant impact on groundwater supplies. I’m having a hard time believing that as water is always hard to come by on the westside,” said Mendes.
Mendes also questioned if the infrastructure in Patterson is equipped to handle another residential development citing the congestion that occurs on Sperry Avenue and the Interstate 5 interchange.
City Planner Joel Andrews responded to Mendes’ concerns.
“The project will be paying impact fees for public safety services.
They will also be entering into a public safety CFD, so that is an ongoing payment for public safety purposes,” Andrews said.
“The city has had several studies that have been done. For the general buildout, those studies show that we have an adequate supply for wells for what the city is doing and will be doing to serve that planning area.”
Andrews also stated that there are future plans to improve the Sperry/Interstate 5 intersection with stop signs in the near future and traffic signals in the long term, stating that there should be some interim and long term relief regarding traffic congestion.
He also revealed that there is currently no plan to build a police substation in the proposed area stating that officers will patrol the streets instead. Ultimately, commissioners recommended that the concerns regarding public safety and funding be brought forth to the Patterson City Council during their review process as these issues do not fall under the Planning Commission’s purview.
An additional issue addressed was the need for a new school to deal with the uptick of residents and children in the new neighborhood.
“The applicant is in robust communication with the school district. Discussion about siting an elementary school site,” said James. “Just trying to look at where would be the most appropriate place to site an elementary school. That is something that is being discussed and worked about between the district and the applicant. The school district has been very much a part of the conversation as this project moves forward.”
The staff report stated that the EIR found that the new buildout would generate approximately 278 students who would enroll in Patterson Unified School District (PJUSD). The unit used to estimate this amount was taken from PJUSD’s generation rate of 0.624 student/dwelling unit. The proposed project included 445 dwelling units.
“The prior EIR noted that the Patterson Gardens land-use plan contemplated several school sites and development fees would be assessed on a per dwelling unit basis to fund construction of new school facilities,” the report stated.
The report states that the project applicant has identified two potential school sites that could serve as a project site and would pay development fees to the school district in accordance with the latest adopted fee schedule.
“The City has notified us about the site plan, located near Southside and Sperry. We look forward to working with them on the development of the plan,” stated PJUSD in a prepared statement.
County’s request denied
Jeremy Ballard of the Stanislaus County Planning Department represented the county during the meeting on Nov. 5, stating that the county was not made aware of the addendum until Oct. 19 and asked for city officials to discontinue the project. The county submitted a letter to the city staff before the meeting, and it was acknowledged in the opening portion of the meeting.
City Planner Andrews recognized the letter but stated that the staff “felt it was okay to move ahead.”
James stated that the city has had communication with the county and characterized the correspondence between the two entities as “pretty standard fare.”
“This is the Planning Commission’s turf. The decision to discontinue this is your choice. I would not recommend it. There will be time to review the addendum between now and the city council,” James said.
Chairman West weighed in, stating that he hopes the county will support the city’s decision.
“I’m going to expect the county to support us with this. They asked us to do a job, and we are doing it.”
In 1999 the site in question was located in unincorporated Stanislaus County. County staff investigated the feasibility of locating industrial parks along the I-5 corridor. The 1999 study concluded that industrial land between Sperry Avenue and the I-5 interchange and the City of Patterson “offered the best opportunity for that effort,” according to the staff report.
Cooperatively the City of Patterson and Stanislaus County developed the West Patterson Business Park Master Development Plan that includes 814 acres, including the proposed site.
The project site was annexed into the city limits in 2004, and the Master Plan was used to provide direction for the development area.
In 2010 the Patterson City Council approved and adopted a comprehensive update to the General Plan. This update reflected the previously adopted and underlying Master Plan and retained the General Plan Light Industrial designation for this site.
The decision to amend this plan on Thursday will reclassify this site from industrial to commercial and residential.