Council looks to annex 42 acres southeast of Reedley

Reedley City Council approves first steps in development project along East Huntsman Avenue that aims to expand the city’s industrial sector

Councilmember Mary Fast asks questions regarding the Bio Lab investigation. (Kenny Goodman)
Councilmember Mary Fast asks questions regarding the Bio Lab investigation. (Kenny Goodman)
Serena Bettis
Published April 13, 2024  • 
1:00 pm

REEDLEY – The city of Reedley may grow by 42 acres over the next year as interests align between the city and a farmer seeking retirement. The abutting farmer will be able to sell his property while Reedley can continue their steady approach to phase in future development. 

Although the land owner and city are still working through the earlier stages of development planning, Community Development Director Rodney Horton asked the Reedley City Council to initiate the land annexation process at its April 9 meeting. The council approved all items related to the development project by a 3-0 vote, with Mayor Anita Betancourt and Councilmember Mary Fast absent. 

“We have a pretty unique project before us, and I’m pleased that we are at this point of having a public hearing before the council,” Horton said. 

Items approved by the council included a resolution to ask the Fresno Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to expand the Reedley sphere of influence, which is defined as the likely physical boundary of the service area of a local agency, and to annex the land into the city limits. 

The council also approved a resolution to adopt the environment assessment and approve the annexation application, and it passed an ordinance to rezone the area to allow for light industrial use.

The specific development would be located north of East Huntsman Avenue and south of the Reedley Sports Park, between Englehart Avenue and Buttonwillow Avenue. Much of the area in question is farmland currently used by Socome Produce, Inc. to grow special peach varieties sold overseas. 

Property owner Keven Lai said that he has been growing peaches in the area for about 20 years and is hoping to sell the property so that he can retire. Councilmember Suzanne Byers said she was concerned about losing the special peach varieties Lai sells, but he assured her he plans to save some seeds and plant trees elsewhere in the city to preserve that piece of Reedley history.

Horton said that although the parcel is currently outside of the city’s existing sphere of influence, it is within the city’s growth area that is identified in the General Plan, meaning the city has the legal justification to incorporate the land into city limits. 

Additionally, the General Plan includes “light industrial” as a proposed land use for the property, meaning that the development is within the scope of what the city would like to see for its future. 

Actual development of the land would not take place until after it is annexed into the city, and the property owner does not currently have a buyer lined up, Horton said; however, starting the annexation process now means that it will be easier for the property owner to sell the land to a developer when the time comes. 

Horton said the property owner worked with the city planning department to prepare a tentative subdivision map of the land in order to prove to LAFCO that development is forthcoming. The tentative subdivision map shows how the land could hold 19 office/light industrial buildings with 410 parking spaces, potentially employing more than 600 people. 

City Manager Nicole Zieba told the council that it is beneficial for the city to have light industrial land ready for development because there are almost no other industrial land vacancies within the city. 

“We get calls and emails from our (Economic Development Corporation) here in Fresno County that is constantly looking for industrial land,” Horton said. “They have industrial developers that are chomping at the bit to build, quite frankly.”

Horton said it would be difficult to give an exact timeline for development of the site, but it could possibly begin around this time next year depending on how long the annexation process takes with LAFCO.

City user fees

At the April 9 meeting, the city council also heard information on another item that, while unrelated to a specific development project, is relevant to overall city growth: a small, inflationary increase to user fees for city services. 

Assistant City Manager Paul Melikian said that some fees were increased based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the increased cost associated with city staff wages, while other fees were increased based on the direct rise in cost of a single good, such as materials used in community events like paint nights. 

The fee changes were presented to the council as an information-only item and the council held a public hearing on the matter to get resident feedback prior to adopting the new fees. The amended Master Fee Schedule will be revisited and approved at the April 23 council meeting, and fees would go into effect on July 1, which is the beginning of fiscal year 2024-25.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter