REEDLEY – Development is continuing in Reedley with a new medical clinic and gas station/convenience store coming to residents on the north edge of the city.
The Reedley Planning Commission approved the development of an approximately 4-acre vacant lot on the northeast corner of South Frankwood Avenue and South East Avenue with a 4-0 vote after a public hearing at its Nov. 2 meeting; Commissioner Patrick Turner was absent.
While the main purpose of the hearing was to approve the tentative parcel map for the subdivision of the lot — as the businesses going in are allowed by-right — the commission also approved the overall site plan and adopted the environmental assessment for the development.
“We’re very excited to be at this point,” David Duda, planning director for design/engineering firm 4Creeks, said. “We’ve worked closely with city staff and the community development director, working through the ins and outs of site planning and land development and feel we’re at a good spot with what’s being presented tonight.”
A 5,200 square foot gas station and convenience store with a drive-thru component will make up one parcel and an 11,000 square foot Family HealthCare Network (FHCN) medical and dental clinic will make up the other parcel.
According to site plan documents, the FHCN clinic will employ 27 staff members and take in 50-some patients at any one time. It will accept walk-in patients and be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Adjacent to the San Rio residential subdivision built by San Joaquin Valley Homes, City Planner Ellen Moore said the lot has been zoned for neighborhood commercial use in the general plan since 2019. Neighborhood commercial use is defined in the general plan as a “mix of retail and service-oriented uses that will serve the immediate neighborhoods,” providing a destination for local transit and places for neighborhood social gatherings.
Planning Commission Chair Alberto Custodio recalled that when the land was rezoned alongside the approval of the San Rio housing development. Although plans for the lot were not definite, the intention was to eventually put in a gas station or other business of the same sort.
Duda said 4Creeks was part of the original project with San Joaquin Valley Homes in 2019 and the commercial component was “left as a remainder” until they knew development would occur. The property owners are now working with FHCN to move forward with building the clinic and are in conversations with a few possible tenants for the gas station.
The gas station/convenience store will be directly on the corner of Frankwood Avenue and East Avenue, with the clinic to the east of it along East Avenue. Moore said there will be drive access from both streets, placed as far away from the intersection as possible, and the site plan currently shows shared access between the two parcels.
“The drive-thru component of the gas station does have the vehicles entering kind of close to South, but there is area provided for stacking in the lane as well as potentially along the landscape strip to the south,” Moore said.
There are already sidewalks placed along the corner where the developments will go up, and there is also a CMU (Concrete Masonry Unit) wall built along the north and east sides of the lot, separating the future businesses from the residential neighborhood.
Three residents spoke in opposition of the development and the commissioners said they also received a written opposition letter.
One resident said he was concerned about the adverse health impacts of putting in the gas station, citing studies from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that have reported that exposure to pollutants associated with gasoline can cause lung, brain and kidney damage, especially for those who live near gas stations.
Multiple residents also said they thought the addition of a gas station would bring about a homeless encampment, and Custodio said that the opposition letter received by the commission expressed concerns over how the area would be policed, because it is on the edge of city limits.
In response, Moore said that the community development department circulates every application to all of the departments in the city, and those departments respond with any concerns they may have regarding the development and their area of expertise. She said Reedley Chief of Police Jose Garza did not express any concerns about the department’s ability to respond to incidents in that area.
“It’s not for me, as your community development director, to say what’s safe and what’s not … the only thing I can tell you is that it was routed to our police department here and there was no issue that was addressed to our department in regards to any concerns,” Community Development Director Rodney Horton said. “I know a number of our gas stations here in town do not have any crime-related issues, do not have any issues in regards to encampments.”
Another resident who lives near the new development, Armando Gutierrez, said he was concerned about the activity the gas station would bring to the area.
“It’s going to bring a lot of foot traffic, a lot of soliciting, a lot of stuff like that,” Gutierrez said. “I think it’s not the proper place to be built on. The residential place came in, great, that’s OK. But when you put commercial out there, it is going to bring a lot of foot traffic, and a lot of problems.”
However, Horton clarified that even if the planning commission voted down the presented items, development could move forward.
“The applicant is not prohibited from developing the land as he wants to or she wants to,” Horton said. “The applicant will then just say ‘we won’t subdivide the land,’ and in that case, the site plan application will not require commission approval; it will then just be something that will have to get approved by staff.”
Horton said that because the tentative parcel map request “trucked its way to commission,” the site plan application was basically acting as a passenger to that request — it wasn’t the primary question for the commission.