Business / Economy

Hollister City Council Approves Roberts Ranch Subdivision

After a four-year development journey the Roberts Ranch subdivision was approved and work could begin as soon as August. The project will eventually build out to over 192 single-family homes and 14 multiple-family units.

After four years, seven months and 24 days, Peter Hellmann, a principal at Builders Land Group, heard what he considered very good news during the Hollister City Council meeting Feb. 20, when six separate resolutions were approved that, essentially, gave the green light to the Roberts Ranch subdivision. The subdivision is bordered by Enterprise Road, State Road 25, and Fairview Road, with part of it adjacent to the Cielo Vista neighborhood.

Hellmann said Feb. 21 that the council’s actions represented the last of the discretionary approvals needed to push the development forward. He said the only remaining step is to obtain a LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) approval to complete the annexation into the city.

“One of the things the city council approved last night was our pre-zoning, which we take to LAFCO and request formal annexation into the city,” he said. “Then we go about the business of trying to put together our construction drawings and submitting them. Hopefully, soon after that we begin building.”

Hellmann estimated that work may begin as soon as August or September.

“We would start grading, which would take about eight months to complete the site improvements,” he said. “We would probably start building houses in the spring [of 2019] and delivering them for occupancy late next year.”

Although he seemed pleased with the results and the project appears to be moving forward, the LAFCO approval is not necessarily a fait accompli.

“There’s no fait accompli in this world, but there have been some projects that have recently been annexed that I hope will provide a template for how our project will be treated,” he said. “If that’s the case, it should be pretty straight forward, but you never know. Every property LAFCO is charged to consider, they make sure the annexation provides the best way to provide services to the project.”

Hellman said he sees a bright future for Hollister and he believes Roberts Ranch will play a role in that.

“I hope in 15 or 20 years we can look back and we’ll see a town that has everything people want in a hometown,” he said.

Hellmann did recognize, though, the issue of only two-lane roads that will be negatively impacted by his and other developments along Fairview Road. In addition to Roberts Ranch’s 206 homes,  677 more adjacent to it are to be built by Award Homes. That project could break ground any day, as well as a 200+ home development on the opposite side of Fairview from the Cielo Vista neighborhood, and 1,100 homes in the Santana Ranch development.

That’s approximately 2,183 homes along a single street.The city of Hollister uses an average of 3.14 persons per home or 6,854 residents.

“It’s hard to argue with that [the impact], but the development community, in aggregate, is going to contribute $130 million in traffic impact fees,” he reasoned. “It’s not going to pay for everything, but it pays for a lot of stuff and I think the city staff has some good ideas where that can be spent most effectively to provide some real improvements. You’re going to start seeing that in the form of [state highway] 156 improvements. It’s really going to be nice when people actually see this money land on the ground.”

Even though the home stretch looked to be in sight during the council meeting, the details of each resolution were discussed, ad infinitum, and some two hours later, they were approved one-by-one, often with recommended additions or changes. In the final analysis, though, they were approved, most of the time by a 3-1 vote, with Jim Gillio voting against several items, and Mayor Ignacio Velazquez being absent from the vote.


John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]