A changing housing market and competition from Fresno home builders have prompted Clovis developers to seek approval to downsize home lots.
Clovis City Council members Tuesday night agreed to allow small-lot developments in the area covered by the Loma Vista specific plan. Developers can now submit plans for individual projects, which still must be approved by the council.
The Loma Vista area had featured many large-lot developments at the peak of the housing boom three years ago, but the housing slump has slowed development there during the past two years.
Clovis developers say they are competing with Fresno developers, who pay lower fees and dedicate less land for amenities such as parks and trails.
To make a profit, the developers told council members they need the small-lot developments.
"The higher density will help pay for those amenities," said Mike Prandini, president and chief executive officer for the Building Industry Association of Fresno/Madera Counties.
Prandini said that under the existing Loma Vista plan, developers pay about $40,000 more per lot for street and park improvements than Fresno charges for comparable developments. With more lots, those costs can be spread over more home buyers, he said.
Prandini said the local housing market is moving toward homes of $300,000 and less. At the peak of the market, Loma Vista homes on large lots were selling in the $600,000 range.
Wilson Homes and The McCaffrey Group are both proposing small-lot developments in the Loma Vista area. Wilson Homes is proposing 480 homes on 80 acres along Ashlan Avenue, between DeWolf and Leonard avenues. The McCaffrey Group project would build 212 homes on about 36 acres on the southeast corner of Ashlan and DeWolf avenues.
In supporting the change, Mayor Harry Armstrong said the city originally planned for small-lot developments in the Loma Vista, but the market demand was for large homes on large lots that averaged three to four homes per acre.
State officials, he said, now want communities to put more homes on less land. He said the developers' proposals fit with that concept.
"They want higher density," Armstrong said. "They want to see seven or eight" homes an acre.
Council Member Bob Whalen said he was worried that neighbors might not like the change. Before he approves any specific project, he said he wants the neighborhood on board.
No area residents spoke on the issue.