A forthcoming housing development will bring 50 new homes to Turlock, but those who live near the future subdivision are concerned about the increased traffic the project would create.
After approval from the Planning Commission in September, the Balisha Ranch subdivision came before the City Council on Tuesday for approval of a rezone for the 17.4-acre property at 2930 E. Tuolumne Rd. Council considered a rezone which would take the property from a Residential Estate zoning to a Planned Development, allowing for various deviations from the Very Low-Density Residential development standards in the East Tuolumne Master Plan.
While the subdivision meets the density requirements for Very Low-Density Residential standards at 2.8 units per acre, exceptions to the 14,500 square foot minimum lot size were proposed as part of the plan with lots ranging from 7,500 square feet to 12,000 square feet along with other deviations.
The Balisha Ranch subdivision is one of three new housing developments near Tuolumne Road, with the Le Chateaux by KB Homes and Fairbanks Ranch subdivisions under construction across the street from the project site.
While several neighbors of the project said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting that they weren’t opposed to the subdivision as a whole, they raised concerns about the density of the development and increased traffic in the area once the homes are built. The residents of nearby Canterbury Estates were especially worried about the continuation of Wyndfair Drive, currently a stubbed street, into the new subdivision.
“As far as the continuance of Wyndfair to that project...We’re afraid it’s going to be a thoroughfare just like Wyndfair and Daubenberger — they fly through there,” Turlock resident David Loomis said.
George Jenkins said he and his wife moved into Canterbury Estates from the Bay Area and paid “premium price” for a house they believed would provide a slow and safe environment.
“The Wyndfair extension into the new housing development doesn’t seem logical.” Jenkins said. “When you put more houses in a housing development, you cut down the amount of street parking...It’s not the quality of life I expected when I moved in there two years ago.
I’m not a ‘NIMBY’ person, but I don't see why the street should be extended.”
According to City staff, when Canterbury Estates was approved in 1995, it was always anticipated in the East Tuolumne Master Plan that Wyndfair Drive would allow for future connectivity to the next-door parcel. Continuing the street allows for vehicular circulation, which decreases air quality concerns and allows the fire department to quickly reach destinations within the subdivision, as well as connection to utilities.
Fire Marshal Mark Gomez also explained that some public comment ideas, like creating a walking pathway between the two developments rather than a through road, would impede the fire department from reaching emergencies in a timely manner.
Cheryl Kelly, another Canterbury Estates resident, is a real estate agent and shared her outlook on the project. She didn’t understand why her subdivision only has two openings to main roadways — and has since it was first developed — but the Balisha Ranch project needs three. She worried about the new subdivision with smaller lots bringing down the Canterbury home values, and also wondered if speed control measures could be installed should Wyndfair extend into the development.
The Balisha Ranch developer made adjustments to the plan following feedback at the Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 2, making sure that there would be no two-story homes along the fence line next to neighboring, existing homes.
Vice Mayor Pam Franco pointed out that approving the project while it’s considered a Very Low-Density Residential zone may benefit the community in the long run, as impending state housing requirements could see more high-density developments proposed in the future.
“Approving it now with 50 lots may be better for our community than pushing to approve 150 lots,” Franco said. “The General Plan calls for updates. We need houses in Turlock and the developer has been kind and put the largest lots adjacent to existing lots in Wyndfair. I think he’s done a good job in trying to help the neighbors.”
Council did approve the rezoning of the project in a 3-2 vote, with amendments added: City staff was directed to work with both the developer and the public in proximity to the project to implement traffic calming measures along Wyndfair Drive. Councilmembers Nicole Larson and Andrew Nosrati voted in opposition of the rezone.