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Planning Commission approves 175-unit condo project
Atherstone condos
An amendment to a previously-approved plan for 140-unit condominium project was approved by the Turlock Planning Commission on Thursday, adding an additional 35 units to the development plan among other changes (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

Despite traffic concerns from neighbors of the project, the Turlock Planning Commission on Thursday voted in favor of an amendment which will add an additional 35 units to a previously-approved condominium development on the north side of town.

Located on the southwest corner of Atherstone Road and North Tegner Road, the 7.15-acre property is owned by Turlock businessman Matt Swanson, who in 2005 applied to rezone the lot from Heavy Commercial to Planned Development 241 so that 140 air space condominiums known as “Park Villas” and a commercial pad could be developed. Before the condominium plan could be approved, however, the subsequent downturn in the market resulted in legislative extensions for project maps, including Park Villas.

The life of the condominium map was extended to July 2018, and at the June 7 Planning Commission meeting a three-year time extension was granted.

On Thursday, the Planning Commission considered a proposal that would change several things about the prior plan for the condominiums: the number of units, their height and whether or not they would be rented out or owned.

The amendment called for an increase in units from 140 to 175, and only required approval from the Planning Commission instead of needing additional approval from the City Council, Principal Planner Katie Quintero explained, as the addition did not count for more than 25 percent of the previously-approved plans.

“The applicant is proposing to revise the site there are modifications to the layout to accommodate the additional units,” Quintero said, adding that even with the additional units, the project still falls under the City’s General Plan density of 15 to 30 units per acre for a High Density Residential zoning district.

The amendment would also potentially allow the units to become apartments.

Currently, the development plan specifies that it will be built as condominiums. The amendment allows the project to either record a condominium map, which would require the individual units to be sold separately, or to remain as one parcel where the buildings would be under one, single ownership.

“The site plan would not change if it was developed as condominiums or an apartment,” Quintero said. “With the condominiums, a homeowners association would have to be established, which would establish the joint maintenance of the common areas.”

The last amendment to the planned development sought to increase the project’s height from 40 feet (the zoning district’s maximum allowance) to 42 feet. Quintero said the increase was not significant, and in comparison, shared that The Vista has a height of 50 feet and the Sierra Oaks apartments are 45-feet tall.

The height of the future condos wasn’t on the mind of the few who came to speak against the project, but traffic was. Greg Adams, who lives on a street near the project, said speeding is an issue in the area. The previous condominium plan would have produced about 1,018 vehicle trips per day onto Atherstone and North Tegner roads, and with the additional 35 units that estimate jumped to 1,228 daily trips.

“No one has shown any concerns about the traffic, the speed of the traffic down the almost one-way road on our street,” Adams said. “I don’t know what’s going to be done to address those concerns about the traffic but someone’s going to get hurt or someone’s going to get killed...I don’t get it.”

Another neighbor of the project expressed concern about overflow parking, and requested that the “No Parking” signs along North Tegner Road remain in place to ensure the road stays clear.

Project engineer and architect Jeffrey Cortinas said he was willing to accommodate any of the community’s concerns. Based off information received at the June 7 meeting, planners have looked into options like adding bushes and a fence to hide the parking lot from view.

City staff recommended the Planning Commission approve the project, as it falls directly in line with Turlock’s General Plan. To protect ag land on the outskirts of town, the City plan calls for more development on infill lots. The project also sticks to the General Plan’s theme of providing a wide range of housing for Turlock’s diverse population. The plan aims to achieve an overall housing type mix of 60 percent traditional single family, 40 percent medium and higher density housing type, and the current mix is 70-30.

With Chair Geoff Powers abstaining, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the planned development amendment, under the condition that a “Left turn only” sign would be placed at the North Tegner Road exit to the complex in order to divert traffic away from points of concern for neighbors.