By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Council OKs commercial project near Mitchell Rd.
Placeholder Image
The Ceres City Council voted 4-0 Monday to overturn the Planning Commission's rejection of a commercial project on a long and narrow parcel west of Mitchell Road just south of Roeding Road.

On July 29 the Planning Commission was deadlocked in a 2-2 tie over the 5-acre project proposed by American USA Homes of Stockton. The tie vote amounted to a procedural denial. However, the council liked the proposed complex of six buildings totalling 59,400 square feet of retail/office use. Two of the buildings would have two-story elevations.

The company sought approval for a general plan amendment to change the use from residential to commercial.

Senior Planner Tom Westbrook said some residents along Roeding Road and Vernal Drive had objected to the project on the basis of traffic and other impacts. William Kent told the council he prefers to see low-density residential on the site and objected to the commercial uses for fear of increased traffic and student safety once Lucas Elementary School is constructed on the parcel to the immediate west. City planning officials say that because the school is going in, there will not be enough room left for development of residential area of significance and they supported the project. Kent also expressed concern about all the signs that may pop up from the offices inside, stating that the city has done a poor job of cracking down on illegal signs.

Marsha Harris of Archcliffe Drive to the south said she loved the project for "selfish" reasons. The project would result in her street being blocked off to the north, which means that shoppers and parents will not be able to take short cuts down her street. Harris said that she was assured that the two-story buildings will not be built near homes to violate privacy.

Businessman Jim Wyatt and son Dirk Wyatt argued in favor of the project, saying Ceres needs commercial buildings and more jobs.

Councilman Ken Lane said he didn't want to see the city continue making mistakes along Mitchell Road, such as when it allowed houses to be built just south of Fowler Road.

Councilman Bret Durosette said he has no problem with commercial uses next to schools and noted that Caswell Elementary and Ceres High are both near commercial uses and there's been no problems.

The city will have control over the types of businesses that go into the project since a conditional use permit is required.

Manhesh Ranchod of American USA Homes said he foresees health offices and hair salons as being interested in leasing space. He said he tried to develop the property as a high-density apartment complex years ago and since neighbors balked, he believes commercial development is the only way to go.

Last week the Ceres Planning Commission approved a commercial shopping center for the other part of Ranchod's land facing Mitchell Road. Approved for the southwest corner of Mitchell and Roeding roads is a plan to build a gas station, two commercial shell buildings and a 6,140 square foot Las Casuelas Mexican Restaurant & Bar. The two commercial buildings are 5,200 and 9,997 square feet in size.

Las Casuelas has proven a popular eatery in Turlock, Modesto and Manteca.