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Public input sought on draft environmental study for Ceres General Plan update

The public is being asked to weigh in on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) of the update of the Ceres General Plan.

The new General Plan is intended to guide the growth in Ceres through 2035, said Community Development Director Tom Westbrook. Part of crafting a new general plan requires the city to analyze the impacts on the environment as dictated by the California Environmental Quality Act and to adopt mitigation measures.

The public review opened Feb. 7 and will close on March 26.

The draft environmental document is available for download from the city of Ceres' website at or from the Ceres General Plan Update website at

Because of the size of the Draft EIR file, it could take a minute or two to download onto a computer.

The plan encompasses 14,700 acres, including the city limits, Ceres' sphere of influence, adjacent unincorporated areas and Mancini Park.

The boundaries for the updated General Plan are nearly the same of the boundaries of the 1997 plan but are being tweaked largely by future road designs, including the Service/Mitchell freeway interchange and the possible development of Faith Home Road as an expressway complete with a new bridge spanning the Tuolumne River, which would allow truck deliveries to the Beard Industrial Tract from Highway 99 without going down Mitchell Road.

The selected alternative, the Southern Industrial Cluster, would create a cluster of industrial uses within southeast portion of the planning area. The alternative would provide greater industrial development close to the freeway on a wider variety of parcel sizes than currently exists. The cluster would take the place of currently designated (but undeveloped) residential uses. Parcels along Highway 99 have been designated Regional Commercial and further along 99 are designated as Service Commercial. It would take a large area designated for residential use south of Service Road and west of Highway 99 and turn it into General Industrial.

The draft General Plan has the capacity for Ceres to produce about 6,500 new housing units and with it an additional 22,000 residents; and over 12 million to 14 million square feet of new non-residential development, or commercial, industrial and office space.

Sophie Martin, the consultant's project manager on the General Plan update, said the General Plan's development capacity is not likely to be what could develop over the 20-year time frame. She said "There is more than enough land capacity within the General Plan planning area to serve the city's needs much beyond the year 2035, so really it's going to be the market and other forces that determine how much development occurs."

The growth plan alternatives may also could result in four times the amount of existing office space, six times the commercial space, and two times the industrial space currently in the city. Westbrook said any of the three alternatives has the capacity to accommodate a 50 percent increase in Ceres' population of 47,000 and a 400 percent increase jobs.

Written comments should be sent to Tom Westbrook, Director of Community Development, City of Ceres, 2220 Magnolia Street, Ceres CA 95307. Electronic comments may be emailed to Westbrook at All comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 26.