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Small apartment project gets planners’ nod
• Magnolia Street complex
Magnolia Square Apartments
Ceres Planning Commission members reviewed this architectural design of the Magnolia Square Apartments proposed to be built at 2519 Magnolia Avenue. Four two-story buildings were approved for the vacant parcel just south of Sutter medical offices.

A Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow the building of a 15-unit townhouse complex at 2519 Magnolia Street was approved by the Ceres Planning Commission Monday evening.

Haren Sanghera of Hughson is the applicant of the Magnolia Square Apartments project to build four two-story buildings on a 1.08-acre parcel between Seventh and Ninth streets. The 15-unit project consists of two- and three-bedroom units ranging in size from 1,494 to 1,743 square feet.

The vacant parcel is located immediately south of the Sutter Gould medical offices. Its zoning is Planned Community which has a General Plan designation as Downtown Residential which allows and encourages multi-family residential, said Christopher Hoem, director of Community Development for the city of Ceres.

City staff has been with working the applicant since November on the proposal. During a preliminary review of the design, the city recommended that each building be designed to single-story height so as to not interfere with the privacy of the adjacent single-story homes. The project was revised from the initial plan to have a looped vehicle access situated around the perimeter of the property with two-story buildings positioned near the middle. They suggested that an improved design would call for the access to be in the interior with buildings on the perimeter to lessen the impact of apartment tenants being able to view the backyard areas of the adjoining single-family homes to the west and east of the project.

A seven-foot-high privacy fence of solid material will be installed on the west and east property lines.

The applicant acted on the city’s suggestion, and submitted a Conditional Use Permit for the proposed residential use and architectural review of project improvements, which was received in April.

Hoem said the townhouse project is providing more parking spaces than what the city calls for as a minimum; instead of 23 spaces, 31 will be offered, including 15 garages.

“We feel it’s a good fit for the city … to provide housing in that area,” said architect Jim Shaw, who represented the proponent.

Commissioner Dave Johnson said he visited the site ahead of time and noted that street parking is crowded and expressed fears that the 15 garages provided won’t be used to store vehicles but other items.

“There’s not a lot of overflow for street parking,” said Johnson. “I hope this project can hold its own for parking.”

Hoem said that a condition of approval is that rental lease restrictions must include a clause saying that garages will be used exclusively for vehicle parking.

“I think it’s a great project,” Johnson added.

“Well I agree that it’s a very attractive complex,” said Commission Chairwoman Laurie Smith. “The units are large. I was impressed by the floor plans and my concern about the parking has been addressed through the requirement on the condition of the lease so I’ll be supportive of this.”

The commission approved the project in a unanimous vote cast by Johnson, Smith, Gary Del Nero and Bob Kachel. Commissioner Daniel Martinez was absent.