Live-tweet thread by Ramiro Merino:

Tonight I will be documenting @CityofFresno’s Planning Commission meeting for @fresnoland. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

Here’s the link to the livestream:

The commissioners approved the consent calendar, which included the consideration of redone application for the +/- 5.57 acres of property located on the southwest corner of West Bullard Ave & North Del Mar Ave.

The Planning Commission is now going over a workshop on the Cleaner and Greener Neighborhood Industry Overlay District.

Emily Brant said “If you look at the Transform Fresno Plan, you know that adding the Light Industrial Zone to this will increase pollution in this area. Remove the names of the businesses who always participate.”

A resident commented “We stay in strong opposition of this overlay.”

Another resident asked “What is your marketing plan for this? How will you get more people to know of this overlay plan?”

A resident on Zoom said “This proposed overlay is of great concern. This undermines the robust community outreach done. I stand in solidarity with communities who are trying to reduce industrial expansion in their communities.”

A resident from southwest Fresno said “You want to redone and rezone all of the hard work we put in. This rezoning will destroy our community. I pray you can reconsider.”

A community member said “We developed the overlay to add restrictions to help preserve the integrity of the southwest Fresno plan. What we don’t want is to rezone these areas back into the industrial zones and that is what the overlay does.”

A business & community leader said “I live in southwest Fresno and own Valero located in this area. My family has a 75 year history in this area. I am concerned that there are people speaking on behalf of this who don’t even live in southwest Fresno or contribute to the area.”

He also said “I am concerned people like myself who live in this area who were not even included in this. Not even understanding on overlay, I had to come here to speak to you all about. We didn’t know about this.”

A property owner said “I brought industrial property 20 years ago. I cannot find a tenant because of the smell, location. I hope you can figure out the best way for this.”

A community leader said “I want to note that this item was not posted publicly until after 5 p.m. on a Friday evening right before a holiday weekend. The materials for this meeting did not list parcels to give the community meaningful information to make an informed decision.”

They also said “The city will be violating state laws. There are state laws that require for the city to promote more housing but by passing this, we are discouraging housing development in this much needed area.”

A resident through Zoom said “This is a hazard to my health and the community. I served on the Southwest plan and do not support this. We are trying to revamp and revitalize Elm Ave. I strongly advise the committee to rethink this because we are opening Pandora’s box.”

A business leader said “This goes against the work we are doing. This violates housing laws that respectfully requires housing developments. Time and time again, residents have said they do not want these industries to come into their community. I urge you to not recommend this.”

Commissioner Robert Fuentes said “One recommendation I have is to expand the pollutants that we should be covering.”

Chair Peter Vang said “If we do consider this, I hope that the City reaches out to the people in this area and hear their thoughts.”

The Commissioners voted to approve a text amendment to Article 16 of Chapter 15 of the Fresno Municipal Code adding the Cleaner and Greener Neighborhood Industry Overlay District.

The Planning Commission is now discussing the Rezone of the property bounded by East Vine Ave to the north, SR 41 to the east, South Elm Ave to the west and East Chester/East Samson Ave (alignment) to the south.

Staff recommends:
Option 1: Denial
Option 2: Approval
Option 3: Approval with Conditions

Commissioner Robert Fuentes asked “The current application does not call for a specific industrial expansion correct?”

“The reason we are here today is because of the outreach done with the property owners on Elm Avenue. This is not a request to expand. In fact, we are already limited to the acres, we cannot expand. Businesses in the area want to continue to do what they are doing.”

See the Elm Avenue Plan Amendment Rezone.

The property owners have invested over $150 million in the City with the construction of new buildings on the properties.

“The Rezone will not result in any negative environmental effects. Because the application merely seeks to preserve existing gland uses, there will be no negative change in the environment.”

Local bank owner of United Security Bank said “We have been good stewards and have been giving back. We did the Bitwise building, the PG&E building. This will be cleanest industrial area because we can’t expand the area as it is.”

Jonathan Kalpakoff with Mid Valley Disposal said “I am limited on where to go, what do do and how to do it. I want us to stay green while abiding the restrictions.”

A private consultant said “We have corporate businesses who are looking at other places like Visalia to move their business because we do not have a clear path in Fresno.”

During public comment, a supporter of the subject parcels said “We didn’t come to raise the issue because of the letter we received back in 2017, which is when we got notified. Just do the right thing, be fair.”

A resident said “This particular plan is not going to reduce the air quality that is rampant in southwest Fresno. The attempt of the plan is to do good for the decades of damage done. This clearly goes backwards.”

Another resident said “I am looking at astute people who are intelligent and can read through sales people. It is disrespectful when they say they were not notified because I know our planning department did their due diligence. I was notified.”

He continued to say “How can we have paid representatives not even from Fresno tell us what is best for our community? They do not look like the residents of southwest Fresno. They only care about their bottom line, they don’t care about our neighbors who are affected w/ asthma.”

Another resident said “I did the mid valley tour and the young lady told me that they are only at 50% of using their facility so they can still expand. These businesses bring jobs into our community and make money, but they who do not support our community.”

A resident said “I was born only thousands of feet away from where the zone is proposed. I graduated with my masters in microbiology from one of the most prestigious black college. I humbly oppose this application as a resident who grew up in southwest Fresno and came back.”

A resident “Do you know what it feels like to live in this community? Do you only care about your bottom line? Or do you not care?”

Another resident said “The presentations seemed disingenuous. They keep saying they are creating so many jobs, but they never talk about how many of those jobs are filled by people from Southwest Fresno?”

A resident said “If you approve this, it will be a slap to the face of the residents in southwest Fresno.”

A life-long resident said “I saw how southwest Fresno was changing quickly, where we were losing grocery stores and saw what was growing where the grocery stores once stood. Please take into consideration on the time spent by the people from this community on the plan.”

Commissioner Robert Fuentes said “I appreciate the businesses for coming tonight and speaking. Giving the pending application, it is not complete and is opposed by multiple agencies and especially residents. I don’t see any other decision than to not pass this.”

Chair Peter Vang said “This is a tough situation because both sides are passionate about this. I am very sympathetic to the businesses for not being able to grow as well as residents who see the impacts of industry in their community.”

Originally tweeted by Ramiro Merino (@Ramiro_Merino_) on June 2, 2022.

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