HANFORD — The city is one step closer to getting more rooftops, and a proposed development will be like nothing Hanford has ever seen.
During the Hanford City Council meeting on Tuesday, a public hearing was held to discuss a planned unit development that was previously denied by the Planning Commission.
Alejandro Clark, the developer of the project, went to Council to appeal the commission’s decision and make a case for his project. His plan is to build a 26-lot gated community that sits on a 4.19-acre parcel located at the southern intersection of Greenfield Avenue and Fitzgerald Lane.
The Planning Commission denied the project due to an “inability to make required findings” pertaining to zoning ordinance requirements. The subdivision proposes deviations to the city’s standard lot size, width, depth and street width.
The project is known as an “infill development,” where vacant parcels that are difficult to work with are turned into developments with smaller-than-normal lot sizes.
The planned development contains lots with very small yards, no sidewalks and a small shared park area. There is also no street parking; besides parking in garages and driveways, there are designated areas with additional parking stalls.
Three residents spoke in favor of the project while two residents living in homes to the east of the proposed project spoke out against the project, citing issues with privacy, traffic and the aesthetic of the planned project.
The developers revised the project based on these same concerns that were brought up during the Planning Commission, including changing a planned two-story home into a single-story home to avoid privacy issues.
“If we don’t develop this project and get it done, it will become a blight,” Clark said.
Alex Dwiggins, a civil engineer at Zumwalt-Hansen and Associates, said it’s part of the city’s general plan to include housing developments that attract a wide array of lifestyles and also encourage infill projects.
“Not everybody in town wants a 10- or 12,000 square-foot lot and some people might like the security of living in a gated community,” Dwiggins said, adding the city currently has water, sewer and storm drain access ready to be used in the area.
Warren Thompson, architect for the project, said these type of infill projects have become popular in places like Fresno, where there are “forgotten” parcels that are otherwise hard to develop.
“They’re selling so fast, you can’t believe it,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the homes have a French-style theme aimed at comfortable living for people who don’t want the maintenance of a large yard.
When it was their turn to speak, council members were receptive to the idea of this kind of development project. Council members looked to the success of Copper Valley, which is a smaller-lot, gated subdivision on the city's northern outskirts that is popular.
“In terms of Hanford, there seems to be a theme of leaving vacant lots for decades, or abandoned unused buildings for decades and we need to start addressing some of those things,” Councilman Justin Mendes said.
“I think this is a fantastic project,” Councilwoman Diane Sharp said, adding she was looking for something similar to these kinds of homes when she moved back to Hanford several years ago. “The look of these [homes] is like nothing else that exists in Hanford.”
A motion to bring the issue back before council at a later meeting to vote on upholding the appeal was passed by a vote of 4-1, with Vice Mayor Sue Sorensen voting “no.”
The decision to approve the development will not become final until Council votes on a resolution at the upcoming meeting, but there seems to be no indication Council members will change their minds about moving forward.