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Area west of 99 to grow next
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When the housing market slump is over, everything should be in place for the next wave of residential and commercial growth in Ceres.

For years City officials have been working with developers on the Copper Trails master plan around Central Valley High School. But now property owners on the west side are pursuing annexation to Ceres city limits of a chunk of ground between Whitmore Avenue and Service Road, bounded by the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the east and Ustick Road on the west.

G-3 Enterprises, Rutland Properties and the Boyle Trust have approached the city to annex what is being called the Ceres West Study Area. The city has a policy that annexations will only be considered when the city has approved an areawide master plan that looks at land use, circulation, housing, infrastructure and public facilities and services. On Dec. 10, the City Council approved a contract with consultant Wood Rodgers, Inc., to prepare a specific plan for the Ceres West Study Area.

The specific plan is projected to take two years to complete.

Copper Trails nearing approval

Ceres Planning Commissioners are nearing a decision on the 175-acre Copper Trails master plan, setting the stage for a building boom south and west of Central Valley High School.

Copper Trails is considerably smaller than Eastgate, which introduced housing to 377 acres east of Boothe Road. The master plan calls for a total of 306 housing units. Approximately 56 acres of the 175-acre master plan are already developed for the new high school.

Copper Trails Master Plan covers the area south of Service Road and north of the Turlock Irrigation District Lateral #2, and between Central Avenue and Blaker Road. The master plan includes a mixture of single-family homes (58.5 acres) as well as over eight acres of medium-density residential, nearly nine acres of high density housing units, a 5.7-acre neighborhood park and five acres of trails.

According to Planning Director Barry Siebe, Copper Trails was slated for a decision in December but the public hearing was continued to Jan. 22. The applicant has asked for a delay due to some disagreements in the timing of infrastructure needs.

"He has some new folks on his staff and he wants clarification," said Siebe.

Copper Trails will have a different look than what's been developed in Ceres in the past, said Siebe.

The project has higher architectural standards and will include a bike and pedestrian trail threading through the development.

"It's all part of the council's philsophy of raising the bar and Copper trails is certainly going to be a step above what's been done," said Siebe.

He noted that Copper Trails may have some of the same design looks at Oakdale's new Bridal Ridge development since Oakdale's policy document is very similar to Ceres'.

Development standards include "those kinds of things are forward thinking," said Siebe, such as providing rear entry to houses fronting parks so driveways are eliminated along park frontage.

"One of the things we try to accompish is to do away with the garage as the prominent feature. We encourage a different placement of garages so you have some that are front loaded, some that are side loaded, some rear entry, some rear detached garage or rear entry attached.

"We also call for a variation of the architectural treatment. To try to create a sense of uniqueness from structure to structure while having the continity of community. We want to get away from that "chalkline affect.'"

The city is also processing the Maple Glen, a project for east of Central Valley High School. The master plan will be slightly larger than Copper Trails in acreage but produce more housing since Copper Trails has a fair chunk already in use for Central Valley High.

"It will be a mirror of Copper Trails," said Siebe in terms of development standards.

The city has also issued a request for proposals for the planning of southwest Ceres between Moffet Road and Highway 99 and going south to Grayson Road to Blaker Road.

"It's a fairly large area. Again this is a mixed use type concept that's going to have regional commercial, high density residential, medium density residential and low-density residential."

Siebe said the city was ready to approve the consultant's contract but the applicant asked for the city to hold off.

"Right now we're kind of in a holding pattern on that one, waiting for the applicant to make a decision on when they want to move forward."