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Planning approves new infill projects
Infill developments pic1.jpg
The property on the corner of Colorado Avenue and Monte Vista Avenue could soon become a dental and professional offices, following Planning Commission recommendation and pending City Council approval. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Turlock could soon see new infill developments in town in the form of a dental office, a coffee shop and retail buildings after the Planning Commission on Thursday approved rezones of two vacant properties.

The Planning Commission voted to recommend the City Council approve the construction of a dental office and medical or professional building on the corner of Colorado Avenue and Monte Vista Avenue, as well as a Dutch Bros Coffee and retail center on the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Crowell Road, across the street from Stanislaus State. Both properties would be changed from residential variations of the Turlock Zoning Regulations to commercial properties.

Dr. Robert McCulla of Turlock Dental Care applied to rezone the property at 3131 Colorado Ave. from Medium Density Residential — a space originally meant for a subdivision — to Commercial Office to allow for the construction of a 7,112-square-foot dental office and a 3,727-square-foot medical and/or professional office building.

McCulla explained to the Planning Commission that after operating a dental office in Turlock since the 1980s, he and his family practice have been located in their current office since 2000. As his children have begun to work in the office as well as other dentists, Turlock Dental Care has rapidly outgrown the space and is looking to increase from 16 employees to 50. The practice began looking for a new space to construct a modern, state-of-the-art office in Turlock about a year ago, and decided on 3131 Colorado Ave. as it’s within close proximity to a majority of his patients in northeast Turlock.

“Our vision is that this building will be a model facility with aesthetics of the exterior reflecting the level of care we provide, that this building will allow us to serve more patients at that level of care and create more job opportunities for the community,” McCulla said. “This building will allow us in an even greater way to give back to our community, living out our practice motto of bringing smiles to life.”

Not everyone at the meeting was on board with the planned office, however. Residents took to the podium during the public hearing for the item to express grievances regarding the amount of traffic the new office would bring to Colorado Avenue, the modern appearance of the building and the fact that the office would sit on the same block as a residential neighborhood.

Retired Stanislaus State professor Larry Giventer lives three blocks south of the proposed development, and didn’t think the building fit into the area given the nearest medical or dental office is blocks away.

“Why don’t we suggest other potential infill opportunities short of leapfrogging existing medical offices across residential properties,” Giventer said.

Shana Dendy lives across the street from the property and said she worries about potential traffic increases on Colorado Avenue, which is only two lanes and 40 feet wide.

“You talk about your plan wanting to keep the neighborhood intact, and I feel that this development, this changing, this rezoning is going to have a very significant effect on our neighborhood. I’ve been in that neighborhood for a long time. I enjoy that neighborhood,” Dendy said. “I plan to continue living in that neighborhood, and this just doesn’t fit.”

Interim Development Services Director/City Engineer Nathan Bray told Dendy that the traffic study completed by the Planning Department determined the dental office would not add a significant enough number of trips per day along Colorado Avenue to impact traffic, and was done in anticipation of more homes being built on the northeast side of Turlock.

Stanislaus State professor Rich Wallace had many of the same concerns as Giventer and Dendy, but also brought up to the commission the fact that the building’s modern exterior would not blend in with the surrounding residential neighborhood, as many other offices along Colorado Avenue do.

As a compromise, the architect team behind the building will incorporate landscaping along the sides and back of the building, which will face Monte Vista Avenue, in order to soften its appearance.

Despite opposition from its neighbors, the Planning Commission unanimously approved the property. The item will be voted on by the City Council at a date to be determined.

Also approved on Thursday was a new proposed retail center near Stanislaus State to be known as Warrior Crossing. Located at 1201 W. Monte Vista Ave., the Planning Commission approved rezoning the property from High Density Residential to Community Commercial to allow for the construction of an 832-square-foot drive-through Dutch Bros Coffee, and a 6,776-square-foot multi-tenant commercial/retail building.

Drivers would access the center via Crowell Road as well as a right-in, right-out only driveway from Monte Vista Avenue.

According to City Planner Adrienne Werner, the location of the center is ideal due to the fact that it is within walking distance to the university as well as the surrounding neighborhood, promoting “walkability” in town — a facet of the City’s General Plan.

“When we look at the General Plan, the General Plan promoted walkability and what we mean by that is our residents in the area should have the ability to walk to get goods and services,” Werner said. “You know, go to a retail space, go get their hair done, and not necessarily have to get into their cars.”

While Dutch Bros Coffee will occupy the 830-square foot drive-through, potential tenants for the larger retail space have not been decided upon but could include anything from cafes, retail stores, neighborhood stores, bookstores, salons and the like. Commercial operations that would not be allowed include automobile repair, sales and service, automobile service stations, bars and other similar uses.

According to the traffic study completed by the Planning Department, Warrior Crossing would generate an average of 338 vehicle trips, compared to the anticipated 220 trips that would have been generated via a residential development for an overall increase of 118 weekday vehicle trips. According to Bray, the existing infrastructure can accommodate this increase. The project would also provide 73 parking spaces for the center.

Stanislaus State professor and Turlock resident Meggan Jordan expressed concern about the drive-through located in the center, as the area already sees heavy foot traffic.

 “Crowell has so many potential hazards already, with street parking, students peeling out of campus in cars, pedestrians, bikers, residences and businesses,” Jordan said. “A drive-through only adds to the car traffic at a location that should be promoting foot traffic instead.”

In response to the traffic concerns, the Planning Commission voted to recommend the project with two conditions. The center has to now have a right-in and right-out off of Crowell, as well as Monte Vista Avenue. There will also be pedestrian modifications to the traffic signal at that Crowell and Monte Vista intersection.

The item will go before the City Council for approval at a date to be determined.