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Homes approved for east Ceres
• First subdivision before the commission in years
Whitmore Ranch subdivision
The Ceres Planning Commission approved this subdivision map for Whitmore Ranch master plan. The map is oriented to where the top is facing the west and Whitmore Avenue is at right.

The Ceres Planning Commission on Monday approved a Vesting Tentative Subdivision Map to subdivide 19.3 acres into 107 residential lots for new homes in east Ceres.

The Mitchell Ranch project, located south of Whitmore Avenue between Cesar Chavez Jr. High School and Moore Road, has been in the works since 2014. A master plan for the 94-acre area was conducted and an annexation out of the county into the city was granted in April 2019.

Project applicants Grant Alvernaz and Steve Alvernaz of Turlock propose to build 77 low-density residential homes, 30 medium-density residential lots, and a centrally located 1.8-acre park/basin. The low-density single-family residential lots will range in size from 5,000 to 8,727 square feet with the average lot size being 6,863 square feet; while the medium -density parcels will range from 2,211 to 2,648 square feet, with the average lot size being 2,429 square feet. 

The first subdivision occupies only 19 acres of the 94-acre Whitmore Ranch Specific Plan.  About 40 of the 94 acres is occupied by the existing La Rosa Elementary School and Cesar Chavez Jr. High School campuses.

Senior Planner James Michaels said that before development may take place the applicants must seek approval of Planned Community Development Plan entitlement and review of the home designs. That will take place at a public hearing in the future.

He said the subdivision is the first for the master plan and “is a good example of an in-fill development located within the city limits.”

City Manager Tom Westbrook said that a new traffic signal will be placed at Whitmore Avenue and Boothe Road in anticipation of the project.

The medium density housing near the park will consist of smaller lots with no garage access from the front. Instead those homes will have garage access through the alley behind the house. Such designs were incorporated into the Bridle Ridge area in south Oakdale.

Commission Chairwoman Laurie Smith asked about the six-foot-wide landscaped planters along each side of the basin. City Engineer said that between the sidewalk and curb and gutter plans call for the building of a landscaped area completely around the basin while the basin will be planted with grass and look like a park.

Dave Romano of Newman Romano LLC said he was excited to attend the development project hearing because of the COVID related slow in business.

“This is actually my second public hearing in over a year,” said Romano. “It’s been frustrating to do them on Zoom and not to be able to see faces or as much of our faces as we make this final transition.”

Romano noted that the project started seven years ago in April.

“It’s almost identical to what was in the specific plan, the lot sizes are the same, the home fronting on the park are the same.”

He said the applicants look forward to moving the project along and now that they have the map and conditions will know the cost of developing it.

The project was approved 3-0, receiving the support of Smith, Gary Del Nero and Bob Kachel. Absent was Dave Johnson. There is a vacancy on the commission because of the election of Bret Silveira to the City Council.