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Apartment complex OK’d despite neighbors’ outcry
Putney apartments
The Ceres Planning Commission saw these renderings of the elevations of Putney Apartments proposed for 3420 Ninth Street and believe it will be an upgrade to the area. Some neighbors, however, see nothing but negatives.

Despite the objections of some neighbors, the Ceres Planning Commission on Monday unanimously approved a proposal to build a 10-unit multi-family residential apartment project on a flag lot at 3420 Ninth Street in Ceres.

The 0.64-acre site is located approximately 255 feet south of the Roeding Road/Ninth Street intersection. The site currently is occupied by a dilapidated home that will come down.

Putney Ventures, LLC, is the applicant.

City staff said they were supportive of the project as it promotes infill development and reuse of an underutilized parcel, and will be of attractive architectural design that will help fill housing needs of future residents of Ceres.

The site has a residential zoning designation of R-3, Medium Density Multiple Family Residential and has a General Plan designation of MDR, Medium Density Residential. Approval of a Site Plan Approval entitlement is required for the architectural review of the building elevations and related improvements.  

Proposed are two two-story buildings of 6,093 square feet. Each will contain five residential units of two bedroom/two and a half bathroom. Two carports which can cover five vehicles are included in the plans.

The site will be gated and accessible from Ninth Street to the parking lot of 20 spaces, meeting the city’s parking standard of two spaces per each unit.

The commission met via Zoom and heard from four individuals, three of whom disliked the idea of apartments in their neighborhood. One Ninth Street woman named Diane said she was “disturbed” that 10 units would be built across the street from her house. She also charged that the applicant had pressed a neighbor to sign a utility easement release form under the guise that he would build a home for his mother. 

The woman’s husband, Abdul Malik called to say the project would crowd the street with cars despite there being a 20-stall interior parking lot. “Eventually, you know, the crime rate will possibly go up,” said Malik. “That’s why we moved here – because it is nice and quiet – and the fact that it’s not congested.”

Applicant Sandeep Minhas of Dublin denied that he duped anyone. Minhas said he originally bought the house for his retired mother but learned it would cost too much to fix up and that he placed his mother elsewhere. He noted that abandoning the TID pipe easement was a separate issue. Minhas said to build a new house elsewhere on his property the easement, which is shared by neighbors, needed to be abandoned with all owners’ permission. When his plans to move his mother in did not materialize, he was free to develop his property and decided to build apartments because of a housing shortage. He said he was transparent to neighbors during the entire process.

Noel Garcia, a 12-year Ninth Street resident, decried the project as one that will further congest the neighborhood with traffic. Garcia said that as a local peace officer he’s concerned about any residents who might rent in the new complex, who he may have had dealings with, jeopardizing his safety.

Tenth Street resident Jorges Padres phoned in to express a desire to see more affordable housing. He said that since the project looks as though it will beautify the neighborhood that he was appalled that a police officer would speak disparagingly of renters. He said the others who spoke in opposition seem “very selfish.”

Commissioner Laurie Smith said the TID easement issue was relevant to the project and explained that  the property is zoned for multi-family housing. She noted the commission was not approving the use but the site plan and the design of buildings.

City Manager Tom Westbrook used a map to illustrate that apartments are common in the Ninth / Tenth Street area.

Commissioner Bob Kachel said that he once rented on Ninth Street and said he didn’t commit “any crimes while I was there and I didn’t make a whole lot of noise, which were a couple of things that were raised in the letters and comments tonight.” He said it was “disturbing” to hear the callers’ stereotype renters as lawbreakers.

“Seems to me that this is consistent with what our plans call for in that area,” said Kachel. 

The commission approved the project 4-0.