A wide-ranging plan to encourage industrial development and the rezoning of 95 acres in south Fresno from agricultural to industrial uses are among the highlight issues for the Fresno City Council on Thursday afternoon.
City Councilman Lee Brand will formally introduce his Economic Expansion Act for his colleagues to consider. The act includes a package of fee reductions and other financial incentives for job-creating businesses – measures that he hopes will encourage industrial growth citywide and improve commercial development in some of Fresno’s economically disadvantaged areas.
The measures include waiving or reducing development impact fees paid by property owners to offset the demands that their projects place on city services; deferring payments from developers for off-site improvements such as curbs, gutters, streetlights and other infrastructure; and, for projects with the most substantial potential to provide large numbers of verifiable jobs in the community, a partial rebate to the business of revenue the city would gain from property or sales taxes generated by the project.
Instead of guaranteeing loans or serving up title to city-owned property, “this is laid out in a way that doesn’t give away the farm,” Brand told The Bee last week. “There’s a payback, and we’re going to measure that payback. We’re going to get back every dollar we invest.”
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Developers and projects that seek to take advantage of the measures would first have to go through what Brand called a stringent screening process to analyze their economic benefits.
The council will also hold a public hearing on a proposed rezoning of land at East and Central avenues, at the southern fringe of Fresno, from its current Fresno County zoning for agricultural uses to light industrial and heavy industrial uses under the city’s zoning ordinances.
The rezoning – actually a “prezoning,” because the city would need to annex the property before the zoning would take effect – is being sought on behalf of Leland Parnagian and G3 Development Co., his family’s development business. The Fresno Planning Commission voted 4-1 in February to recommend council approval for the zoning.
G3 Development is also the developer of the 230-acre North Pointe Business Park, just across East Avenue from the proposed site. North Pointe is the site being pitched by the city for a much-sought-after Nordstrom’s e-commerce fulfillment center. Fresno and Visalia are among the communities competing for the project, which could create 1,000 full-time jobs.
“This will really be a continuation of what we’ve done with North Pointe,” Parnagian said Wednesday. “We don’t have a real specific plan on what would go there at this point, but we want to get set up and have the entitlements and zoning in place. That way when a user does show up, we’ll be able to offer them close to shovel-ready ground.”
If Fresno succeeds in landing the Nordstrom’s warehouse for the North Pointe site, Parnagian said it could open a floodgate of interest among would-be tenants for the East Avenue property.
Rezoning the property for eventual annexation into the city as industrial land “promotes consistency with … the Fresno General Plan” and would “preserve and protect the industrial character of the area and will expand the city’s industrial capacity,” according to a staff report prepared for the City Council.
Fresno City Council
When: 1:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Fresno City Council chambers, Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno St.