An on-again, off-again effort by Fresno County to encourage development for industrial projects – and the jobs they can provide – could be back on again with the encouragement of the Board of Supervisors.
Plans for the county to develop an industrial park have been floated around the halls of county government for at least a decade, but have gone nowhere. In 2006 and 2007, supervisors hired a real-estate consultant with an eye toward searching for about 1,000 acres of land as a regional industrial park. But that effort stalled in 2008, when a proposal to secure options to purchase land was pulled from the board’s agenda, never to resurface.
On Tuesday, public works and planning director Steven White described a different strategy to supervisors that doesn’t involve the county getting into the real estate business. Instead, the county can use its zoning and land-use rules, and work with cities throughout Fresno County, to make it more attractive to property owners to cooperate with would-be industrial developers in creating an industrial area that can be marketed to companies.
Getting the ownership of the land in our possession is not necessary.
Steven White, Fresno County’s director of public works and planning
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“It’s a low-cost alternative,” White said. “Getting the ownership of the land in our possession is not necessary. You can partner with the property owner as long as they’re agreeable to it. … Then let the property owner, if they choose to sell to a commercial developer or something else, reap the benefit of the land they actually own.”
In a report to the supervisors, deputy planning director Bernard Jimenez said the department has focused its efforts on three areas where there is plentiful land with good access to transportation, water and sewer services: the communities of Malaga and Calwa, both on the outskirts of Fresno, and the Golden State Boulevard corridor reaching from the south end of Fresnothrough the cities of Fowler, Selma and Kingsburg.
Supervisor Andreas Borgeas said he’s pleased to see the discussion of an industrial park revived languishing for years.
“Every day that we’re not moving forward, we’re missing out,” he added.
Other areas of Fresno County should not be ignored, Supervisor Nathan Magsig said. Those include the western reaches of the Interstate 5 corridor and along Highway 180.
Supervisors took no formal action Tuesday toward industrial development. But the planning staff will likely return to the board later this year with more specific recommendations for site-selection criteria, land-use zoning and infrastructure availability.