Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Fresno County Planning Commission approved the expansion of a biomethane gas clean-up facility to include the installation and operation of a reception facility, which will accept biomethane gas transported by tube trailer from off-site dairy digesters. It will be located on a portion of a parcel occupied by the Open Sky Dairy, located on Elkhorn Avenue, near the unincorporated community of Lanare.
  • The Fresno County Planning Commission also moved forward a solid waste processing facility on a 2.16-acre parcel on Jensen and Maple Avenues. 
  • The commissioners approved a lot split into three parcels in the Limited Agricultural Zone District located at Behymer and Sunnyside Avenues, but denied a lot split into two parcels in the Exclusive Agricultural 20-acre minimum parcel size Zone District at Minnewawa and Copper Avenues. 

The meeting (in full)

The Scene

The Fresno County Planning Commission meeting took place on Thursday, June 9, 2022 at 8:45 a.m. The agenda states that public comments can only be made in person at the Fresno County Hall of Records at 2281 Tulare St. in Fresno, but a link is available to listen to the meeting by phone or online. Joseph Potthast, Sophia Pagoulatos, Chris Motta and Mohammad Khorsand were online initially.

The commission currently has one open at large seat. 

Names of officials:

Ken Abrahamian, Chairperson, District 1  (also almond and raisin farmer)

Glenda Hill, Vice Chair, At large (occupation unknown)

Austin Ewell, District 2 Commissioner (also president of KAN Ventures, Inc./Ewell Group)

Esther Carver, District 3 Commissioner (also executive director of Lowell Community Development Corporation)

Kuldip Chatha, District 4 Commissioner (also raisin farmer)

John Arabian, District 5 Commissioner (occupation unknown)

Lisa Woolf,  At large Commissioner (also part owner of Woolf Farming and Processing firm)

Blake Zante, At large Commissioner (also political director for Kevin McCarthy for Congress)

Abrahamain was absent at the start of the meeting, but joined at 8:56 p.m. Hill ran the meeting initially.  

The meeting was open for public presentations and no public comments were made. 


  • Approved conditional use permit application and initial study proposing a solid waste processing facility on a 2.16-acre parcel on Jensen and Maple Avenues. 
    • Daniel Mosto filed the application for the facility where bulk containers and drums will be reconditioned and refurbished. 
    • Planner Elliot Racusin presented the item. 
      • He said they inspect and remove labels from containers and recondition them inside the property. 
      • He said the City of Fresno was requesting annexation. 
    • Mosto was in attendance. He said he was in agreement with the findings. 
  • An item for a classified variance application proposing to create a 13.45 acre parcel from two parcels and waive road frontage on Ashlan Avenue between Indianola and Bethel Avenues was canceled per the agenda. 
  • Denied an application to waive road frontage and minimum lot requirement in the Exclusive Agricultural 20-acre minimum parcel size zone district to allow for the creation of two parcels of a little over an acre each at Minnewawa and Copper Avenues. 
    • Jenna Chilingerian is the applicant. 
    • Racusin presented this item as well. 
      • He said they received four letters of opposition, two were outside the radius of .25 miles and two were within. 
        • Main concerns were water concerns. 
      • He said it was inconsistent with the Fresno County General Plan and should be 20 acres in size. 
      • He said it’s also inconsistent with the City of Clovis Sphere of Influence. 
    • Woolf pointed out other parcels that don’t have frontage roads and asked how they were allowed. 
    • No letters of opposition were received from the City of Clovis. 
    • Chilingerian is a planner with Civil Engineering was in attendance. 
      • She said the property owner, Chris Cruz, was there as well. 
      • She pointed out several lots that have been granted an access easement. 
      • She said the Cruz family built a residence on a neighboring parcel in 1971. 
      • She said it has not been used for ag since before 1970. 
      • She said the subject property has historically been a substandard sized property that has not been used for ag since before 1970. 
      • She said the property is outside Clovis city limits and constitutes a special circumstance because it’s not likely to be connected to city water. 
      • She said it is surrounded by residential properties. 
      • She said the property would be required to be developed for medium density residential consistent with the Heritage Grove master plan. 
      • She said two residential lots are allowed in the zone. 
    • Woolf asked why they need the split. 
      • Chilingerian said he wants to be able to sell it outside the family. 
    • Cruz spoke in support. 
      • “I’m not getting younger and my intent is to be able to have another resident in the back, be it my son lives there or I live there in time,” he said. “The other thing is it’s an asset..this is something that my father always wanted to do.” 
      • Woolf pointed out that they can build another house there if it’s for him or his family. 
      • Cruz said that it’s a possibility, but he would like to have all options open to him. 
      • Cruz pointed out an easement and a road behind his property. 
      • Woolf said that it sounds like a neighbor wants to buy parcel b and you don’t want to sell it to him. 
      • A commissioner asked about the neighbor’s concerns about water. 
      • Cruz said that he thinks they all are concerned about water, but that it’s not a challenge or a doubt, it’s true. 
      • “I understand the concerns, but that’s a county or state thing, not a neighborhood thing,” he said. 
      • Abrahamian asked if his family owned more property in the area and split it in the past. 
      • He said his family owns a tortilla factory in the Fresno area, which is what brought them to the location. 
      • Cruz said he is a former planning commissioner. 
    • Chilingerian clarified that a groundwater study was done and found that there was adequate groundwater for the property. 
    • Hill moved to deny the variance based on staff’s findings. 
      • Woolf said the property owner around him was in the room to show support. She said the issue she sees is who the next owner of the property will be. 
      • Hill, Arabian, Carver, Chatha, Ewell, Woolf, Zante and Abrahamian voted to deny. 
  • Approved waiving the minimum lot size requirement to split into three lots and a variance to the width of parcels in the limited agricultural zone district located at Behymer and Sunnyside Avenues. 
    • Ronald Silva is the applicant. 
    • Racusin presented the item. 
      • Staff is recommending denial due to findings one and two. 
      • He said it is inconsistent with government code section 65096. 
      • He said the underlying land use designation is rural residential, but it is currently zoned AL-20. 
        • Staff said it is holding zoning, but recognizes that the General Plan may be different. 
        • He said in this case if they want to do a rezone, it would be consistent with the General Plan. 
        • He said only one call in opposition was received with concerns about water, but the water well was adequate. 
    • The proposal would be consistent with the rural residential zone district, which limits the property to a two-acre minimum parcel size. 
    • Silva was in attendance. He said Fresno County Planning recommended they pursue a variance rather than a rezone. 
      • He said in the 1960s several land use applications were submitted and allowed through Fresno County. 
      • “I think we’re consistent in addressing this finding in this is an exceptional circumstance,” he said. 
      • He said the county has gradually pushed the parcel into the configuration it is in now. 
      • He said it is in the future growth area of Clovis. 
      • He said it is consistent with surrounding parcels of being two acres. 
      • He said the by-right use of using it for almond trees would really impact the groundwater. 
      • “We’re looking at the better use and the surrounding community is to create three residential uses that is consistent in parcel size with the surrounding land use,” he said. 
      • A commissioner asked if they have a copy of the county recommending they pursue a variance, he said that they did. 
        • In looking at it, the commissioner said it seemed subjective rather than explanatory. 
        • In reviewing it, the commissioner said it looks like the county is just explaining what a variance is, not recommending it. 
      • A commissioner asked about the $6,400 fees listed. 
        • The applicant also pointed out the fees paid for a water test that ran between $13,000 to $20,000. 
      • It was noted that Ewell had to step out, but they would proceed with a vote. 
      • Silva said that he was there to answer questions. 
        • He said his parents bought the parcel across the street in 1976 and bought the parcel being discussed later from a family. 
        • He said most of the neighborhood is starting to transition and seeing new families come in. 
        • He said his parents moved to the Easton community. 
        • He said he has four children and he and his wife are now planning for their future. 
        • He said they farm Chandler walnuts on his parent’s property in Easton. 
        • He referred to the “mormon” neighbors and said they were supportive, but that he didn’t think to bring letters of support. 
        • He said this property would be used for his “forever home” off Behymer. 
        • He said they would do a well share agreement with their well. He said they pumped out over 100,000 gallons for the test and pumped 3,500 gallons for the water yield test. 
        • He said that since they are going through the process, he thought they could sell one of the parcels or let one of his kids use it in the future. 
        • He said they own Ron Silva Realty. 
      • Woolf made a motion to approve. It was seconded by Arabian and unanimously approved. 
  • Approved a conditional use permit for a high-intensity park known as the Clovis Castle with related improvements for events such as weddings on a 10-acre portion of three parcels in the rural residential zone district on Auberry Road, 5.3 miles northeast of the Copper Avenue intersection. 
    • James and Louella Bratton are the applicants. 
    • Marisa with the Department of Public Works presented the item. 
      • She said the project consists of two phases. 
      • On Nov. 13, 2014, the planning commission voted to allow the high-intensity park, but then there was a zoning violation that didn’t comply with the conditional uses. 
    • Woolf asked about the violation. 
      • Marisa said the project is the same as what was approved previously, but the zoning violation was issued because during the process they were not complying with their site plan review comments so they have to use the site plan review process to abate that. 
    • Dirk Poeschel was in attendance on behalf of the applicant, the Brattin family. 
    • Larry Empereur, owner of an adjacent property, was in attendance. He said he has been a neighbor for 16 years. 
      • He said he strongly supports any improvements that they make. “It’s a wonderful place,” he said. 
    • The commissioners unanimously approved. 
  • An item for a tentative tract map for a nine-lot subdivision on Greenwood and Clinton Avenues was canceled per the agenda. 
    • Staff confirmed that the item was completely canceled and will need to be re-noticed. 
  • Approved a conditional use permit  to allow the expansion of a previously approved biomethane gas clean-up facility to include the installation and operation of a biomethane reception facility, which will accept biomethane gas transported by tube trailer from off-site dairy digesters.It will be located on 14,000 square-foot portion of an existing 508-acre parcel occupied by the Open Sky Dairy, located on Elkhorn Avenue, 5.25 miles NW of the unincorporated community of Lanare.
    • Eric Te Velde of Five Points Pipeline, LLC is the applicant. 
    • Changes permit from allowing an existing biomethane upgrade facility to allowing for a biogas offloading facility (reception point) and a 1,404 square-foot warehouse with control room. 
    • Planner David Randall presented the item. 
      • He said staff are in support of the item. 
      • He said the final documents weren’t completed so they had to add a condition. 
    • Ili Martino was in attendance on behalf of the applicant. 
      • She said she is scheduled to meet with the applicants on Monday to sign and notarize the document. 
      • She said they have five operational sites in Fresno County, one near Kerman that will be trucking the facility. 
      • She said there will be one to two trucks per day coming to the facility each day. 
    • Approved unanimously. 

It was noted that Commissioner Chatha had to leave. 

A staff member clarified that pre-applications are typical in that people will ask if they can do something and it is their due right to proceed so they are careful not to obscure their efforts. But he said they do make an effort to inform them of other options that may be more feasible. He said pre-ap letters are not a recommendation that they will support something, but sometimes they will indicate that they will have a problem supporting something. 

The meeting adjourned at 10:35 a.m. The next meetings are scheduled forJune 23 and July 21. They usually occur on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. 

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