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Planning approves subdivision of affordable homes
Palm Street condos
A subdivision of 13 affordable town homes will soon be built on North Palm Street (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

A small subdivision of town homes was approved by the City of Turlock Planning Commission Thursday in hopes that the project will bring more affordable housing to town.

FQC, Inc. of Denair applied to rezone the property at 1347 N. Palm St. from Medium Density Residential to a Planned Development in order to allow for the construction of 13 single-family homes — a project that has so many deviations from the City’s typical standards for residential dwellings that the rezone was necessary, including the minimum lot size requirement, minimum lot width/depth, minimum frontage requirements and side yard setbacks. The Planned Development zoning also allows for a private roadway into the property.

“This is a type of project and product that isn’t really contemplated in our zoning district standards,” Planner Katie Quintero said. “The reason for the Planned Development process is to allow deviations from our development standards to allow for projects that are unique or have a higher design standard. This is a really unique project; it provides a different type of housing.

“This is a different product that allows for homeownership but with smaller lot sizes, so there’s more affordability.”

Plans on the .92 acre space call for lots that will range in size from 2,168 square feet to 3,064 square feet. The 13 houses will be two-story units and will have approximately 1,550 square feet of living area with an attached garage and a porch. The private roadway that will be constructed is less than half the size of the standard for a typical City road at just 26 feet across from sidewalk to sidewalk, and to ensure both fire services and Turlock Scavenger can enter the roadway, no street parking will be allowed.

“If a City-standard roadway was put in, this project would not be feasible,” Quintero said. “It allows access into the site.”

Since the roadway is private, a homeowner’s association will be formed in order to ensure both the street and the subdivision’s common areas, including landscaped areas in the front and a shared open space inside of the subdivision, are properly cared for.

The series of smaller homes are meant for prospective home buyers who are looking to purchase something on the lower end of the housing market, developer Ben Penfield said. About 80 percent of the company’s projects are Planned Developments, he said, and they’ve built similar subdivisions in areas like Merced, Fresno and Manteca.

“Our goal is to sell housing affordability…We take an area like this and instead of putting apartments in, we’re going to put houses in where you have individual people,” Penfield said. “We’re going to try to sell to families that maybe can’t afford the next house up.”

Turlock resident Milt Trieweiler expressed his concerns to the Planning Commission prior to the project being heard that Turlock was not providing enough affordable housing for residents, and instead continued to approve subdivisions with expensive homes rather than apartments. After the presentation, his attitude changed.

“I’m pleasantly surprised; we’re moving into the 21st century,” he said. “I mean, this is what we need and we could do this all over. We could have plenty of housing here in Turlock and a builder like this is the kind of builder we want to go to — people who really want to provide this kind of housing for us and do it right.”

The project was approved unanimously by the Planning Commission, and the rezoning ordinance will go before the City Council for final approval.