DINUBA – More residential development is being planned for east Dinuba, but logistical difficulties surrounding area traffic could slow the route to construction.
At its meeting on Dec. 5, the Dinuba Planning Commission adopted three resolutions related to a 99-lot residential development with a 4-0 vote; Commissioner Tim Conklin was absent. Multiple concerns were raised about the impact the development would have on traffic, but city staff explained that guidelines they have to follow limit their options in addressing those challenges.
“We have to be cautious changing and modifying things based on a condition that exists out of the subdivision and how we typically do things,” Assistant City Manager Daniel James said. “I understand all the concerns, … it’s just this is what we were presented with in terms of ‘how do we make this work,’ and staff spent a great deal of time on this trying to figure out the best solution.”
The proposed development is on a lot northeast of El Monte Way and Crawford Avenue that is just under 27 acres. It was previously used for agriculture and will include 99 single-family residences, a 1.1-acre park and a temporary storm drain basin.
The site also includes three outlots facing El Monte Way that are designated for future commercial development. The commercial outlots are just east of the McDonald’s and AutoZone, and the residential lots will extend north from there to Lauren Avenue.
Digging into the details
There are two zoning designations within the lot: R-1-6 (medium density residential) along the north two-thirds of the lot, and C-3 (community commercial) along the south one-third of the lot. The developer requested a zoning change and General Plan amendment to increase the portion of the lot that is zoned for residential and decrease the portion zoned for commercial.
Karl Schoettler, a city planning consultant for Dinuba, said the developer plans to adhere to the minimum zoning standards for the width, depth and size of the subdivision lots; each residential lot will be at least 6,000 square feet.
The city has the capacity to serve the subdivision with the necessary utilities, and once a master storm drain basin — that is already in the city’s storm drain master plan — is complete, the temporary basin can be filled in, Schoettler said.
Floor plans for the residences and other design elements of the subdivision have not been worked out yet; however, the developer, Ken Turner, said he would be willing to make the homes that border existing residences along Lauren Avenue single-story in response to a resident’s concerns about backyard privacy.
Concerns caught up in traffic
Most concerns about the development revolved around its impact on traffic in the area, mostly related to nearby schools; the proposed subdivision is about a half mile away from Kennedy Elementary and Washington Intermediate School.
The development plan has two streets — extensions of East Bolinger Way and Edward Place — that will lead into the subdivision from Crawford Avenue, which residents and planning commission members said is full of stop-and-go vehicular and pedestrian traffic before and after school. At least two entries into the subdivision are required for emergency response access, Schoettler said.
“For people to think that Crawford’s not gonna be congested — it is gonna be congested,” resident Rosa Grano, who lives in the area, said. “I live there, and I already go through that stuff every day. I see the kids coming – they’re jogging across, they block the roads. It’s hard to come in and out, especially if you’re coming off a side street off of Crawford.”
Currently, the section of Crawford Avenue that the subdivision will be along has one south-bound lane and one north-bound lane, with a center left turn lane.
City Engineer Jason Watts said that a traffic impact study done for this development showed that the level of service on the roadways and future growth will eventually require traffic signals to be put in at intersections in the vicinity of the development, but those are currently projected to be nearly 20 years out.
“I have a feeling, based upon where we’re seeing growth right now, it could be much, much faster than that,” Watts said. “It’ll all depend on how fast the development occurs.”
City staff and planning commission members discussed other options for managing traffic in the area, including the addition of center medians along Crawford Avenue to better direct and control traffic flow. But the requirements of the lot and where it is situated limit what the city can do for planning the development.
Based on where the lot is, an entrance into the subdivision from El Monte Way would be possible, but it would not be a good option because of already existing traffic buildup along El Monte. Also, there is a likelihood that residents would use the neighborhood to avoid the Crawford and El Monte intersection, creating more dangerous road conditions for future residents.
Turner said that while the development is not technically considered an infill project because there will still be open space to the east of the subdivision, it is almost completely surrounded by existing development, which makes it more challenging logistically.
James added that previous planning and development in the area is what made this lot more difficult to develop, but the city has to consider the application regardless and focus on the details that fall within the subdivision boundary.
The developers have been working with the city on this application since the spring, and paid close attention to feedback the city council gave to other developments to match up these plans with elements city council members wanted to see in those subdivisions, Turner said.
Action taken by the planning commission adopted the development’s environment findings report and approved the zone change, General Plan amendment and tentative subdivision map.
Before developers can continue with the project, they will have to also receive approval from the Dinuba City Council for the zone change and General Plan amendment requests.
Construction will not begin until a final subdivision map is approved by the city council as well. There are currently no plans for the commercial lots; Schoettler said the developer does not do commercial work and will market those outlots to a commercial developer.