The controversial project to bring a 28-unit apartment complex to Moffet Road survived a late attempt of Councilwoman Linda Ryno to nix it.
The project was approved in a 3-1 vote of the council on Nov. 22 and by the Ceres Planning Commission in August. Ryno did not support the project in the initial vote, citing concerns about adding to traffic congestion that already exists close to two schools and the lack of onsite visitor parking and its impact on street parking.
The project site is located immediately north of the Richland Shopping Center and south of Sierra View Apartments. To build apartments, the applicant, Harinder Toor, needed to have the city to approve a General Plan amendment to change the property’s designation from Community Commercial to High Density Residential and rezoning from Community Commercial to High Density Multiple-Family Residential (R5).
When the item came back on Monday for final adoption of the resolution, Ryno pulled the item in an attempt to stop it from moving forward.
Ceres resident John Warren voiced his opposition to the project and wanted it discussed since Mike Kline recently joined the council and had not been able to weigh in on it. Warren expressed concern about the lone entrance and exit to the parking lot, saying large vehicles like garbage and delivery trucks will have no room to turn around and would have to back out onto Moffet Road.
“Vehicles, when they back up, are an extreme hazard,” said Warren. “You can’t see small children behind them. You can’t see people or cars.”
Ryno expressed her opposition to the rezoning again as she did last month.
“We still have the same issues,” said Ryno. “We have traffic along Moffet. I’m sure most of us travel that way know how bad traffic is. There’s only one driveway in and out.”
Ryno acknowledged that Ceres has a shortage of residential units but noted the Planning Commission approved 20 units in Jan. 19, 10 units on Feb. 1, seven homes on Feb. 16 and 107 lots in May.
“I think we have the potential to have enough housing but I don’t think that we need to put housing when we don’t have adequate care given towards the existing traffic,” said Ryno.
Ryno dismissed the notion that leaving the property zoned as commercial would result in more traffic once it’s developed. She reasoned that any future stores would be held to a reciprocal access easement to use Richland Shopping Center for motorists.
Councilman Mike Kline said he has concerns about adding apartments behind commercial loading areas but said he didn’t think the property would ever be feasible for commercial use.
“That is the back of the shopping center and to put more shops back there, to me, they would be lost,” said Kline. “So I can support this project.”
Councilman James Casey said he travels Moffet often and he notes the lack of parking on either side of the street.
“Traffic is pretty bad,” commented Casey, who picked his granddaughter up at school down the street earlier in the day. “I fear not so much for the trucks backing out of there but just for the safety of the children there at Carroll Fowler and for that reason I cannot support this.”
Vice Mayor Bret Silveira said the complex “well meets the code for parking spaces.” He noted that police, fire and all utility entities had no objections over the project.
“There’s no issue about whether they think their trucks can get in or out or turn around or any of that.”
Silveria also said the owners of Richland Shopping Center are in support of the project “and are looking forward to finally having a great use for that lot that’s been sitting there for as long as I’ve been in Ceres with a big piece of dirt.”
When it came to a vote, Silveria, Kline and Mayor Javier Lopez voted in favor of final adoption while Ryno and Casey voted no.
Toor plans to build four two-story units. Each unit will consist of two bedrooms and two bathrooms of approximately 875 square feet.
A total of 56 parking spaces will serve the complex that will be accessed along the north property line. A gated emergency access will consist of a 25-foot-wide path on the south end. A six-foot-tall perimeter block wall will shoulder the west and south property lines.
Toor, owner of the company and Ceres resident, said he feels his project is a great one which will help fill a housing void in Ceres. Toor stated that the project will be offered at market rates, not Section 8.
Senior Planner James Michaels said Toor wanted a lower density than the 36 units that he could be allowed to build.