The Hollister Planning Commission recently approved tentative maps and conditional use permits for two building projects that, if eventually approved by the city council, could add around 200 single-family homes, duets, and apartments within the city.
The commission looked favorably on the two projects because they both included multi-family units and apartments. The developers have up to two years to return with engineering maps, according to Development Services Director Bryan Swanson. That time can be extended, if needed.
One development that will be located at 1040 South Street consists of 25 single-family homes and three multi-family homes, along with four apartments. The second, much larger development, is a 25.72-acre plot on the north side of Buena Vista Road, west of Miller Road on land formerly owned by Fernando Gonzalez. The land is next to Gibson Farms’ walnut orchard.
Doug Ledeboer, developer of the Buena Vista Road project and the Mirabella project directly across the street, described Hollister as the ideal city for his type of projects that price between $450,000 and $650,000. Ledeboer said for the past three years he has worked with city staff and elected officials on the projects to determine where the city wanted to grow.
“We continue to hear about the affordability of homes,” Ledeboer said, adding that according to the city’s general plan, there are priority areas where growth was desired and he searched for parcels that filled those requirements. “We were looking for a medium-density site that would be more affordable by design that was located within your priority growth areas.”
Ledeboer reminded planning commissioners that the property had already been pre-zoned and annexed into the city. He also said the three-year processes benefited the design of the project, particularly the size and location of a park. At the beginning of the process the park was smaller and located in the center of the project, he said. Now it is almost twice as large and situated on the western border. By placing it there, Ledeboer said it now has the potential for a regional park, should another development be built to the west.
Ledeboer said there would be 144 single-family lots and 26 duet units. While duets and duplexes seem similar, they differ in that if a person buys a duplex they buy both units, but each side of a duet is sold separately and is considered an attached, single-family home. There will be 18 different configurations, Ledeboer said.
Pinnacle Strategy President Victor Gomez commented on a few modifications that the city staff was asking of the developer in order for his project to move forward. He said he spoke to Mark Gibson about his walnut orchard and was told Gibson intended to keep the agriculture business operating even if located next to a housing development.
“We do have concerns with full-street improvements,” Gomez said of the city’s requirement to build out Miller Road, which separates the development and the farm. “You will tap into [Mark Gibson’s] revenue and agricultural use, so we caution you to take that into consideration on these full-street improvements. He will be using heavy equipment, and if you have a sidewalk and landscaped frontage on that side of the road, it could have an impact there, as well as on Westside Road.”
Local architect and Planning Commissioner David Huboi said he was pleased by the size of the park compared to the overall development, particularly because it might one day be extended into a regional park. He also commented that he thought the designs of the duets were exceptional.
Commissioner Carol Lenoir joked that she did not have to use the word “ugly” once regarding the architectural designs. She said if the engineering department is satisfied with the traffic circulation design of the project she would go along with it, and added that three years ago she would have voted against it because it was located on the north side of Buena Vista.
“I understand the city led you down the path that we’re going to develop on that side and you got rezoned and annexed, so I’ve got to consider the project,” Lenoir said. “I’ve come to realize it’s probably going to happen, so we want to do the best we can. Moving forward, I’m making it known now I’d like to see a master plan of that area because I’m concerned about the circulation.”
There is no need to build out the entire Westside Road north of the development, Lenoir said, because there is only farmland there now. If the road were built and sat idle for the next 10 years, it would only deteriorate if not used and maintained, she said.
Huboi asked if children presently used Miller Road to go to Calaveras Elementary School. Abraham Prado with the city’s development services department told him that there is no development on Miller so far, and the likelihood of the Gibson property being developed was an unknown, but the property east of it could be annexed.
Commissioner Pauline Valdivia said the development would be good for the area and she was in favor of it.
“Every house is going to be different and it has a lot of character,” Valdivia said. “I support it and I don’t think we should hold it up.”