Documented by Jackie Schuster
Here’s what you need to know
- The Visalia City Council unanimously approved all items on the consent calendar, including an item to enter into a development agreement for the Pratt Family Ranch project.
- The council reviewed the first reading of a new ordinance to amend the Visalia Municipal Code to meet regulations for state recycling requirements.
- Council members approved initiations for annexation and the introduction of an ordinance to adopt a new specific plan for the 507-acre Carleton Acres project.
- Why is the plan for the Carleton Acres project dependent on a second Costco development if Costco has not finalized any requests for a second development in the city?
Visalia City Council
Liz Wynn, District One
Vice Mayor Brett Taylor, District Two
Mayor Brian Poochigian, District Three
Emmanuel Hernandez Soto, District Four
Steve Nelsen, District Five
The Visalia City Council meeting started at 7 p.m. All council members were present.
- Public comment
- No public comment
- Consent Calendar
- With no items pulled, Nelsen motioned to accept all consent calendar items, and it passed unanimously.
- Regular item 1, first reading of Ordinance 2023-05 with proposed revisions to Chapter 8.28 of the Visalia Municipal Code to incorporate regulations related to state recycling requirements
- Public Works Manager Jason Serpa said enforcement of Senate Bill 1383 regulations will not take place until 2024 and there have been updates to the rulemaking throughout the last few years. City staff collaborated with CalRecycle and then worked with the city attorney to get approval for these proposed revisions.
- The first amendment is to Section C of the chapter because CalRecycle suggested the city refine its text regarding what commercial generators are required to do in the city. Section 8.28.151 had several parts that were deleted because they were no longer viable under the new regulations.
- Nelsen said he is familiar with commercial trash in the downtown area, and asked if when several merchants are using the same multi-use bin, how will it be determined who is at fault for discarding the wrong items there?
- Serpa said that the education period for this ends this year, so after that, if the wrong items are put in a shared bin, people who share the bin will also have to share any penalties that occur.
- Nelsen asked how they check for contamination. Serpa said that truck drivers check bins for contamination and they also have people on the ground who also sometimes check bins.
- Nelsen said he thinks more thought needs to be put into how the city makes sure regulation occurs. Serpa said they can give two types of waivers to commercial businesses, ones for when they can prove they don’t create organic waste and ones for when they don’t have enough space for waste. Nelsen said in writing it sounds good, but he thinks it will be hard to enforce or generate change.
- Taylor said he had similar thoughts on shared bins being contaminated. He asked what would happen if members of the public used these bins. Serpa said most of the bins are locked.
- Taylor moved to approve and adopt Ordinance 2023-05 and the associated amendments and revisions to Visalia Municipal Code, Chapter 8.28, Solid Waste Collection and Disposal. The motion passed unanimously.
- Regular item 2, public hearing and consideration of the certification of a final Environmental Impact Report, initiation of proceedings for Annexation 2021-05, introduction and first reading of an ordinance to adopt Specific Plan 2021-13 and enter into a development agreement, and General Plan Amendment 2021-14
- Principal Planner Brandon Smith said the Carlton Acres Project has been in the making for years. He said the specific plan will lock in the overall land use plan for this project and the general plan amendment will affect land use designations.
- The project would be developed over a period of 20 years, similar to the Shannon Ranch community on the north side of Visalia. The applicant, West Star Construction, is looking to build a lot of the components of this project. This project has two phases corresponding to the construction of Tier 1-2 and Tier 3.
- The property has a history of being used for agriculture, and is still being used for agriculture today.
- The general plan amendment is a redistribution of land uses to provide a more even distribution of uses among Urban Development Boundary Tier 2 and Tier 3. The land for multi-family use will be placed closer to schools and commercial zones.
- The annexation and request for development is following General Plan Land Use Policy LU-P-22. City staff have reviewed the annexation request and determined that the site can be serviced with all requisite utilities and infrastructure. There are no existing residences on the site, and all current property owners are in agreement with the plan. The land would be added to Visalia Voting District 3.
- Before moving to Tier 3, staff recommend that permits should be issued for 80% of lots in the Phase 1 Tentative Subdivision Lot.
- The commercial parcel map will create eight lots subdivided from 20 acres. Three lots are dedicated to a potential future Costco Warehouse store, and five lots are dedicated to commercial development fronting Riggen Avenue that the property owner will develop. A conditional use permit will be required for any potential Costco developments, but nothing has been filed yet. If Costco later decides to not be involved in this project, the specific plan must be revisited.
- Shirk Street and Riggen Avenue will be widened into four lanes as part of this project. Shannon Pareway and Roeben Street will have two lanes.
- The Riggen Avenue Widening Traffic Impact Study confirms that Costco and 13 homes being added would require a full widening.
- The Planning Commission reviewed these entitlements on Sept. 11, motioned to approve tentative maps and suggested the council approve all other items.
- Nelsen asked if the five-year increments for roads mentioned in the staff report meant the roads would be developed over five-year increments or if that was just an estimation. Smith said that there are certain improvements the applicant plans to make over five years, but it is based on the pace of development. They have been working on the plan assuming Costco will be developed and will have to reevaluate if it will not be.
- Nelsen also noted that the report says there will be 17 acres of trails and parks but he didn’t see it illustrated on the plan. Smith said that the applicant’s initiative is to take a certain amount of acreage for trails and parks and spread it around.
- Travis Crawford, an environmental planner, presented the final environmental impact report (EIR). Based on the EIR analysis, the impact areas of agriculture, air quality, biology, cultural and tribal resources, geology, hazardous materials, noise, public services and transportation were determined to have a significant impact because of this project and need mitigation.
- The EIR determined that impact areas of aesthetics, agriculture, air quality, water quality, transportation and utilities and service systems would have significant and unavoidable impacts.
- During the public review period of the EIR, the city received three comment letters, and the final EIR responded to all of the comments.
- Taylor said the traffic study showed that traffic would be above city standards, and asked how they would mitigate that. Crawford said they would fully build out five intersections of main roads around the project but that traffic was determined to be an unavoidable impact.
- Poochigian said “We keep talking about Costco, but does this mean that a second Costco is confirmed?” Paul Bernal, the city’s director of community development, said that this project sets the stage if Costco decides to pursue a second development in that area. The staff has received indications that Costco is planning to move forward with that but nothing has been finalized.
- Poochigian said he is concerned about Roeben Street and Shannon Parkway because he doesn’t know if two lanes will be enough space near the school, so he hopes there are enough road access points to mitigate the impact.
- Michelle Huerta, an architect with M Architecture and Design, said that she and West Star Construction have worked closely with the city to make plans for the project. The commercial zones in the project are designed to serve the needs of the Carleton Acres neighborhood and the greater North Visalia area. The Modoch Canal will be turned into a trail and be a connection point for other trails in the neighborhood. There will also be protected bike lanes on some roads. Each corner of residential use would have a unique park.
- Taylor asked if the trails and parks would be funded through a homeowner association, lighting district or the city. She said they would be funded through a lighting district.
- Nelsen asked what area of California Water this neighborhood would be serviced from. Steven Johnson, California Water service manager, said that California Water probably will have to drill a new well there. Nelsen asked if they would be able to handle all the existing wells during the first phase, and Johnson said they would.
- Nelsen made a motion to approve all items suggested by the staff report that passed unanimously.
With nothing to report from the closed session, the meeting adjourned at 8:08 p.m. The next Visalia City Council meeting will be held on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.
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