The city of Ceres is giving a two-year extension so that Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East may build a new 7,922 square foot church building and maintaining an existing wedding event venue at 1743 Evans Road.
The church was granted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in the summer of 2019 but no construction has taken place. The applicant told city staff they need more time to prepare the construction drawings for the church building before they are submitted to the Building Division.
On Monday the Planning Commission voted to grant a two-year extention.
The church has been in Ceres since 1998 but had to find a new church because of the Service Road/Highway 99 interchange project that will result in the building being razed. The city purchased the former site for the interchange project.
The new church site of Saint Gewargis Church, will be sized for a maximum capacity of 285 occupants. Three classrooms will be included for religious education and meetings throughout the week. Plans call for the sanctuary to be near Evans Road, oriented facing the west with the parking lot butting up to the back of property lines of El Monte Avenue homes. The Evanshire Mansion sits in the middle of the site to the south of the future church building.
The project is proposed for a five-acre site south of the Evans Road and east of Richland Avenue. The site is currently developed as a wedding event venue with well-maintained landscaping with several buildings linked with the wedding event venue (that will be maintained as part of the overall project). The property is surrounded by single-family homes and the former Memorial Hospital Ceres to the south.
The property has a zoning designation of Administrative Professional (A-P), and a General Plan designation of Medium Density Residential (MDR). Since the proposal is for a new church building while maintaining the existing wedding event venue, approval of a new CUP is required. If the wedding event venue were not being requested, the application would have been a Site Plan Approval as churches are a permitted use in the “A-P” zoning designation.
Senior Planner James Michaels said the proposal is consistent with General Plan policies, including promoting infill development to protect farmland to reduce pressure to develop on farmland or other “greenfield” sites on the periphery.