Clovis News

Clovis City Council gets first look at proposed general plan

A newly updated Clovis general plan -- the city's blueprint for development over the next 20 years -- would bring more trails and homes to a new section of the city east of the educational complexes on Willow Avenue.

On Monday night, Clovis City Council members will have their first conversation about the general plan. The planning commission approved it unanimously earlier this month.

The city has been working on the updated plan for five years. The building slump gave the city extra time to hone its plan and include community members in the process, said Dwight Kroll, Clovis planning director.

City officials project the city will grow to 160,000 residents by 2035. Today, the city is home to 102,000.

The main focus for the next stage of city growth is about 2,500 acres between Shepherd and Copper avenues and Willow and Clovis avenues.

The plan is to create an "academic village," with a focus on students, newly married couples and younger families, adding trails that connect with systems in Clovis and Fresno along with easy access to public transportation connecting Fresno State and downtown Fresno, Kroll said.

A major feature is a 20-acre anchor park site where Clovis Avenue would meet the Enterprise Canal, he said.

The expectation is for the northwest area to have a college community feel -- similar to Davis or San Luis Obispo -- connecting to school sites on the west side of Willow Avenue, Kroll said.

It's more likely to have attached housing that is student-related.

"Our hope is that it can provide a viable place where you could actually live without a car very comfortably," Kroll said.

A new, higher density community would allow the city to meet state housing rules, and the inclusion of trails and public transportation would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to comply with state guidelines, Kroll said.

Under an agreement with the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, the city can grow to the northwest area once 60% of land in the Loma Vista area surrounding the Reagan Education Center in the southeast part of the city is approved for development by the city. Right now, Loma Vista, which will ultimately stretch east from roughly Locan and McCall Avenues between Ashlan and Barstow avenues, is at 50%.

It may take a few years before development in the northwest area could begin, said Council Member Harry Armstrong.

After the northwest plan, the city's growth is proposed to shift to an area south of Highway 168 and east of Clovis Community Medical Center. Neither area is in the city today.

The new general plan also would aim to preserve existing commercial centers by requiring an analysis for any newly proposed shopping areas that exceed 150,000 square feet.

It took eight years for the city to resolve issues over the Clovis Crossing shopping center at Herndon Avenue and Highway 168. Kroll said the new general plan would require the city to examine potentially blighted areas when a new, large shopping center is proposed.

"Our concern is that venues like Shaw Avenue remain vital and that we are not cannibalizing existing commercial areas of the city" in favor of newer developments, Kroll said.

Planning Commissioner Paul Hinkle, who also sat on the 21-member citizens committee reviewing the general plan over the past five years, said the general plan reflects ideas of Clovis community members.

The planning commission discussed the general plan twice before approving it, but there was little opposition, he said.

"I think it was a sign that we did a good job working with the public," Hinkle said.

The northeast area, when it develops, would serve as an industrial hub for the city.

"We think it's an excellent location for the job center," said Dirk Poeschel, who represents several northeast area land owners. "We don't need the plan to change."

But the Building Industry Association of Fresno and Madera Counties has concerns with the plan that need ironing out, said Michael Prandini, chief executive officer.

The association has problems with agricultural land mitigation proposals that promise to preserve farmland in other areas in exchange for converting land to urban use. The city will create a farmland preservation plan within three years.

Prandini said developers also are concerned about a proposed requirement for reports on archaeological resources before development begins. He said builders already have policies to stop work when archaeologically sensitive items are discovered on a work site.

"It's overkill, so we are going to object to that," he said.

The building industry also wants change to a policy that would require analysis of public safety and other services when a development that is more than a half-mile from the city limits gets under way, he said.

City officials worked with Prandini late last week to negotiate changes in the city's policies.

"Overall, I would have to give (the general plan) a positive, but we do need this land mitigation issue taken care of," he said.

If you go

What: Clovis City Council

When: Monday, 6 p.m.

Where: Council chambers, 1033 Fifth St.