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Commission votes 3-1 to approve new storage facility
• New member votes against new project for Mitchell Road
Ceres Self Storage art
Approval was given last week for the Ceres Self Storage facility on Mitchell Road. The Ceres Planning Commission voted 3-1 in favor of the project.

A Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow construction of a unique 92,248 square foot self-storage facility north of Westward-Ho Mobile Home Park on Mitchell Road was approved by the Ceres Planning Commission on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Newly seated Ceres Planning Commissioner Gary M. Condit voted against the project but was outvoted by commissioners Bob Kachel, Cerina Otero and Gary Del Nero. Commissioner Dave Johnson was absent.

Condit was appointed to replace Ruldip “R.J.” Jammu, who sought reappointment.

The Ceres Self Storage project at 3418 Mitchell Road will also include a 1,908 square foot two-story manager’s living quarters with a 616-square-foot two-car garage. The facility will employ two to three employees. 

“This particular facility has a unique ramp design,” said city of Ceres Senior Planner Teddie Hernandez. “The way it’s designed is to allow two stories of storage units. Everything is ground level so there’s no elevator or anything and it also provides more privacy to the surrounding neighbors and for the occupants of the facility.”

An on-site storm water retention basin is also being required. 

Carlo Development of Van Nuys is proposing the development. The firm has been developing apartment complexes and storage facilities in California for over 40 years.

Condit posed a series of questions, starting with asking how many self-storage facilities there are in Ceres. Community Development Director Christopher Hoem guessed “three or four” but a later check by the Courier shows Ceres has nine. In 2021 the city also approved the former Kmart building, which is 84,000 square feet in size to be turned into a Public Storage facility.

Condit also asked if traffic studies had been required but was not only told that self-storage facilities generate only “minimal” traffic impacts, the project is an infill project exempt from CEQA environmental review as an infill project. Commissioner Bob Kachel noted that traffic impact was considered at the time the land was zoned for Highway Commercial (HC) and were already addressed and mitigated.

Condit asked if the surrounding residents were notified of the project and public hearing. Hernandez said the city is required by law to notify all property owners within 300 feet of the project site. When Condit sought clarification about renters being notified, Hoem said it’s been the city’s practice and the law to notify only property owners.

Otero opined that the location seemed like a good one for the project.

When it came time for voting, Condit answered “nay” without explanation. He later told the Courier: “Due to a traffic study not being conducted, I could not support the project. Developments being proposed on a thoroughfare like Mitchell Road should require a traffic study, especially with the recent businesses and stop lights added on Mitchell Road.”

Ian Lopuch of Smart Self Storage said his company has been building facilities since 1973 and owns 13 throughout California. He said one was opened in Turlock on Diane Drive at Fulkerth Drive “and just about in over a year it’s already been met with so much product acceptance because the facility is now nearly full.”

He said his company builds a premium quality storage facility with the best quality of appearance with upscale landscaping. 

The unique ramp design has been used at one of the company’s projects in Chino.

storage ramp
This photo of a uniquely designed ramp structure incorporated into another self storage facility in California was shown to Ceres Planning Commission members last week to show how it will be used in Ceres.

John Lopuch said the two-story design was based on the dislike of customers having to use an elevator or a flight of stairs. An earthen ramp placed in the center of two buildings allows drive-ups at multiple levels.

The facility will not be accessible 24 hours a day for security reasons and for the neighbors’ privacy. Instead, the plan is to allow gate access only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week while the proposed office hours are expected to be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. 

Final map

In other action, the commission unanimously approved a final map to divide a .44-acre parcel at 3605 Ninth Street into two residential parcels.

House move approved

Commissioners also approved a Conditional Use Permit for Shane Parson to relocate a house from 2761 Sixth Street to 3004 Fifth Street.

In August 2022, the City Council entered into an agreement with Parson to exchange his property at 2761 Sixth Street with the city’s property at 2936 Fifth Street. Part of the agreement was for Parson to move the house from 2761 Sixth Street to the site of the community garden at 3004 Fifth Street.

Once the house is relocated, the Community Garden will be relocated to the southwest corner of the intersection of Magnolia Street and Sixth Street, adjacent to the Whitmore Mansion, and owned by the city.

Hoem explained that the Ceres Municipal Code requires that all proposals to relocate structures must be approved by the Planning Commission.  The action is very rare, noted Del Nero.

The meeting also saw Otero appointed chair of the Planning Commission to replace Kachel. Del Nero motioned to appoint Kachel as the vice chairman.

House to be moved Ceres
Commissioners approved a Conditional Use Permit for Shane Parson to relocate this house at 2761 Sixth Street across the street from Walter White Elementary School to 3004 Fifth Street. - photo by Jeff Benziger