Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez


  • The commission approved a tentative tract map for a 10-lot single-family residential development located on the northeast corner of North Timmy and West Nees Avenues. The development will be built by Gary McDonald Homes and consist of semi-custom new homes with average lot sizes of 13,000 square feet.

  • The commission approved items associated with approximately 23 acres of land located at the northeast corner of Nees and Minnewawa Avenues to allow for expansion of The Well Community Church on property that belonged to the Smittcamp family and was referred to as the historic Wawona Ranch.

  • The Clovis Planning Department has another new staff member, Assistant Planner Emily Lane. 

The Scene

The Clovis Planning Commission meeting took place on Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. The Planning Commission consists of five Clovis residents appointed by the Mayor Drew Bessinger and approved by the City Council. They meet monthly to make decisions and recommendations on city planning issues and review proposals for compliance with the General Plan, in order to make recommendations to the City Council. 

Commission Members:

Paul Hinkle, Chair (also real estate agent with Kellner Properties)

Mike Cunningham, Chair Pro Tem

Alma Antuna

Brandon Bedsted (also Director of IT & Data Services, Community Medical Centers)

Amy Hatcher

The meeting was made available via Webex and YouTube Live. The agenda states that face masks are required for those who attend in person due to COVID-19. All commissioners were in council chambers.  

The meeting opened quickly with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Cunningham. It then was opened for comments by the commissioners or secretary. Commission Secretary Dave Merchen introduced a new staff member, Assistant Planner Emily Lane. It’s the second new staff member added to the city’s planning department recently. Merchen said she comes to Clovis from Madera County and that she grew up in the Bay Area . “She has great experience coming in, also great experience with public engagement and she’ll be a great addition to our staff,” Merchen said. 

Hinkle then opened the meeting for public comment and no comments were made online or in council chambers. 


  • Approved minutes from Feb. 25, 2021 meeting.

  • Approved a tentative tract map for a 10-lot single-family residential development located on approximately 3.55 acres of vacant land on the northeast corner of North Timmy and West Nees Avenues. Developer/applicant is Gary McDonald Homes. 

    • Assistant Planner Kelsey George presented the item to the commission. She noted staff received one email in opposition to the development and two emails and one phone call in support of the project. She said the property in question is surrounded by development of similar use. “Because this project isn’t requesting a rezone there’s no general plan amendment,” she said. “There’s no deviations from the code being requested. It will be required to comply with the development code with all the R-1 7500 standards.” 

    • The development will be semi-custom new homes with average lot sizes of 13,000 square feet. The lots will include a 5-foot minimum paved side yard for trash toters. She recommended the council approve the tract map and, “make a finding of consistency that the dedication toward public right-of-way is proportionate to the development being requested.”

    • Antuna asked George to explain the condition of approval item 3 and whether it was, “just a housekeeping item.” George said that it was due to there being previous entitlements on the land, which allowed for a senior memory care facility on the same property as approved by the planning commission on July 25, 2019.

    • Hinkle asked whether there was a sidewalk on both sides of the street and it was confirmed that there are. He also asked about palm trees on the land and George said they will be required to get a permit to remove any trees on the land, which will require an arborist report and replanting plan. “It is their intention to save what they can, but what they do remove they will need a permit for,” she said. 

    • The applicant, Gary McDonald, was in chambers and addressed the council. “We’re very pleased to acquire this site,” he said. “In the past we’ve built several hundred houses in Clovis and there’ve been not as high quality as we plan on building here. The homes are going to be larger and the lots in some cases are large enough to have accessory dwelling units so we’ll probably be making applications for those also to be on some of these lots.” He went on to say there is a lot of demand for larger lots and most of their building is in the City of Fresno. “There are no more large lots, it’s all over,” he said. “You have to have 3.3 units per acre minimum in Fresno and so with that the largest lots are going to be 10-11,000 square feet except on some cul-de-sac situations.”

    • Merchen noted that he did receive a phone call from Bob Lockovich, who said he lived behind the proposed development and supported it. 

    • Bedsted said, “I know there’s quite a history with this property, I think this is a great and appropriate use. As Mr. McDonald mentioned, we see a lot of high density housing developments come before us.”

    • Hinkle said that he’s read that larger lots are in demand due to the pandemic and that millennials have, “figured out that they needed a larger lot than what they thought they needed in the past and this fits right into it.” He said he was glad this was moving forward because, “I’ve seen there are a couple bills in committee right now that could be disastrous for the neighborhood and this is the best thing that can happen for that area.”

    • Cunningham said the project was a, “godsend to this particular parcel. We’ve been going back and forth on its use for years, the neighborhood was quite unified in opposition to the previous entitlements.” “I want to thank Mr. McDonald for coming in and saving the day as to this parcel,” he said. 

  • Approved items associated with approximately 23 acres of land located at the northeast corner of Nees and Minnewawa Avenues to allow for expansion of The Well Community Church on property that was referred to as the historic Wawona Ranch.  

    • Approved an environmental finding of a mitigated negative declaration for rezone.

    • Approved a request to rezone 23 acres from single-family residential very low density to single-family residential low density. 

    • Approved a conditional use permit for a church use allowing for services on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m, Mondays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Childcare would only be during church events and services. Also allows for weddings, funeral services and recreational events. 

    • Senior Planner Ricky Caperton presented the item to the commission. The land includes a former Smittcamp residence and orchards. He said the request to rezone is a “cleanup” to bring the site’s zoning into consistency with its land use designation. He noted they will add sidewalks along Nees Avenue, as well as a parking lot for approximately 550 vehicles. 

    • Caperton noted they did receive two public comments (one letter and one call) related to noise and traffic circulation concerns. They also met with one neighbor who had questions and spoke to another on the phone. He said most services would occur indoors and any uses would comply with noise standards included in municipal codes. 

    • He noted that Nees Avenue will be widened in the area, which will help with traffic circulation in the area, as well as a total of five points of ingress and egress. Three of them will be along Nees Avenue. 

    • Cunningham asked about left turns out onto Minnewawa Avenue 

    • Brad Bell, lead pastor of The Well Community Church, was in council chambers. He said that, “Clovis is a Way of Life,” and that he paid for his college education by working at Luna’s Pizzeria. “To be here and talking about this project is truly historic for us,” Bell said. “As a young man who grew up and went to all of my schooling here, I’m very aware of the uniqueness that is Clovis.” He said they have operated for 20 years as a church, primarily in Fresno at Maple and Nees Avenues. “As we were looking at growth options, we’re very thankful for the Smittcamp family that was willing to entertain a conversation about the historic Wawona Ranch,” he said. “We recognized that this could be a premier opportunity to create something special on that property to continue the legacy of generosity that has been the Smittcamp name for so many years, but to do so in a little different fashion.” 

    • Cunningham asked how many people attend church services. Bell replied that if they were to return to indoor services, they would be at approximately 750 people per gathering. He also asked about traffic studies on the site and that he was concerned about the left turn lane and the current traffic on Minnewawa Avenue. Traffic Engineer John Roland of Peters Engineering Group spoke to the commission about the traffic study that was completed. He said that drivers will take different routes to avoid having to make the left turn and may even prevent drivers from making the left turn to minimize congestion. “I’m not terribly uncomfortable with that left turn, I’ve done it after buying peaches before,” Roland said.

    • Hinkle asked about truck entrance and exits and what the plans were for the property east of Clovis Avenue. Bell said they have no plans or funding for that property. Hinkle also asked about if charging stations would be put in the parking lot and was told it is possible. He also pointed out that they may want to adjust the allowance for starting time of activities before 9:00 a.m., otherwise they would have to come back to them later. Bell said he would like to adjust the starting time of activity to 7:00 a.m.

    • Bill Smittcamp, president and CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods, was also in chambers to address the commission. “There’s nothing better for this site than what’s going on and hopefully to be approved tonight,” he said. “That dirt is pure sand and it did not grow very good peaches so we’re happy to put some buildings on it. My family is in full support, my late brother and my two sisters are in full support.” 

The meeting adjourned at 6:46 p.m. Future Planning Commission meetings are scheduled for April 15, May 27 and June 24, 2021. 

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