The Ceres City Council on Monday approved a contract with a professional firm to plan an area east of Ceres to ultimately be annexed for residential development.
AECOM of Sacramento was given the nod to do the design the project and write the environmental impact report at a cost of $449,802, which will be paid for by the developer.
The Whitmore Ranch project is proposed by Steve and Grant Alvernaz to place 100 acres in the county into the city of Ceres. The area is east of Moore Road and north of Roeding Road. The project goes as far east as the eastern boundary of La Rosa Elementary School. About 40 acres of the annexation area are taken up by existing La Rosa Elementary and Cesar Chavez Junior High schools. About 60 acres would remain for development, most of which will be for housing.
The Alvernaz family lives in the project area.
The firm will look at preferred land use plans and calculate how the project will impact services in the way of traffic, sewer, water, police and fire services as well as impacts to Ceres schools.
The city requires that all new development be master planned rather than piecemealed so the project proposed will be examined to determine the best design.
"The master plan won't be as big or as intensive as the West Landing Specific Plan was - because that was 1,000 acres and this is only 100," said Director of Community Development Tom Westbrook, "but it follows along the same steps in terms of the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report, the preparation of a Specific Plan, which will show where the roads are going to be, any parks, residential, etcetera, and so it's going to go through a similar process as West Landing but albeit a much smaller scale."
Public hearings at the Ceres City Council and Planning Commission levels won't be held until fall of 2017.
With housing inventory running low in Ceres, there is renewed interest in building new houses in Ceres.
West Landing was annexed to the city on Ceres' west side but no activity has occurred to develop it. Westbrook said because of the costs of installing the infrastructure upfront, he believes the developer is waiting for better times "before they start putting those dollars in the ground and trying to get houses sold."