Dinuba approves housing project south of Kamm Ave

(Kenny Goodman)

Dinuba City Council compromises on the upcoming Rose View Estates housing development with the inclusion of increased pocket park size, traffic mitigation measures and more

DINUBA – Following a thorough discussion on its impact on the area, more residential development is underway in Dinuba now that an upcoming housing development has been approved to transform a neighborhood subdivision on the south edge of the city.

The Dinuba City Council greenlit phase two of the Rose View Estates project — with a few stipulations — at its meeting Oct. 24 through a 4-0 vote; Councilmember Kuldip Thusu was absent. The subdivision, located southeast of Wright Street and Grace Lane, will have just over 40 single-family homes and include a small neighborhood pocket park.

“I will say I appreciate the developers,” Councilmember Benjamin Prado said. “When we had the first hearing on it, we brought up the concerns … (and) they’ve done their due diligence as far as trying to accommodate the ideas and thoughts of our citizens that came and expressed their concerns, as well as the council.”

Phase two of the Rose View Estates development will be on a 9.6-acre site surrounded by existing homes from the north, west and east, with agricultural land to the south. Originally planned as a 44-unit development, a condition of approval from the city council brought the number of units down to 42.

The project developers — identified as 247X Group, Inc. in the city staff report — first received approval from the council at the end of March to build a 27-unit subdivision on 5.5 acres of land to the immediate east of where phase two will be.

Due to the small size of the developments, the city exempted both phases from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The development’s design

Both phases were approved with a conditional use permit that designated the site as a planned unit development overlay zone, which is required when a developer wants to build lots that go in a different direction from the standards listed in the city’s general plan and zoning codes.

City planning consultant Karl Schoettler said the area is zoned as R-1-7.5 for medium to low density residential development, which has a minimum lot size of 7,500 square feet. According to a city staff report, the proposed lots for phase two of the Rose View Estates development range from 5,874 square feet to 7,062 square feet, with an average size of 6,478 square feet.

In order to be designated as a planned unit development overlay zone, the city must determine that the subdivision design is “superior” to what could be achieved with the existing zoning, according to a city staff report.

“Such findings can be difficult to make, but simply getting more and smaller lots is not justification for finding of a superior design,” the staff report said.

To achieve this finding, the developer initially agreed to incorporate tree-lined streets, antique-style street lamps, stamped and colored paving at crosswalks and to abide by residential design guidelines that require at least half of the homes in the subdivision to have large, usable front porches. The staff report said these elements are intended to create a pedestrian-oriented character for residential neighborhoods.

Lois Lane and Grace Lane will be extended to the east to provide access to the development, and Wright Street and Johnson Avenue will be extended to the south. During the approval process for phase one, council members voiced concern over the lack of traffic circulation in the area; to mitigate this, the developers proposed an extension of Wright Street north to connect with Kamm Avenue to provide better access to the neighborhood.

Schoettler said the developer will pay for and complete the extension of Wright Street to Kamm Avenue in exchange for seven vacant lots that are northwest of Wright Street and La Vista Avenue. Those lots are currently used for a small ponding basin and pocket park, but will be turned into housing lots by the developer.

Council concerns

City council eventually approved the subdivision on the condition that the developer make the pocket park larger, remove the plan for tree-lined streets to add more space to the home lots and that city staff come up with a plan for traffic mitigation at Wright Street and Kamm Avenue that is approved by city council.

Councilmember Linda Launer and Mayor Maribel Reynosa both expressed their concerns over lot sizes and traffic congestion in the neighborhood. Launer said that the area is already crowded as-is due to limited street parking.

She suggested the development not include tree-lined streets because that creates a strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street, taking up space that could be used for other purposes.

“That creates a congested area,” Launer said. “I like the greenery and the trees, but I think we need to really start thinking about that and then possibly trading off that little strip for either more in the property line, or more in the street, so that the streets don’t look like you’re trying to dodge a car going down the road.”

Further, council members noted that residents would have to care for the trees, and without a Homeowners Association (HOA) to enforce that, they were worried the landscaping would not be well taken care of.

With the smaller lot sizes — which are not favored in many cities — council members noted that yards would likely be smaller, making it difficult for children to have a space to play outside. To address that, Schoettler said he would propose to the developers that they take away two lots slated for homes next to the pocket park to extend its size; it was originally planned as 6/10 of an acre.

“We’d want to hear the developers’ reaction to that, because they weren’t expecting it before now,” Schoettler said. “Other than that, the smaller lots are coming; we’re seeing them in every city we work for.”

Reynosa said she was also worried about storm drainage with the removal of the ponding basin, as well as traffic flow along Kamm Avenue with the extension of Wright Street.

City engineer Jason Watts said that the removal of the ponding basin would not be an issue, because it was only built as a temporary solution when the surrounding neighborhoods were developed. He said the city already has a storm drain pipeline in the area that is built to collect storm runoff from the entire subdivision and the current development will not pose an issue.

Although the city never connected the existing neighborhood to that pipeline, the developer will do that as part of its acquisition of the lots in that area, saving the city resources it can use on other infrastructure development.

“The developer as an exchange, they’re going to be getting lots for this, but they’re also fixing a nuisance and a problem that we currently have,” Watts said.

Regarding traffic at the future intersection of Wright Street and Kamm Avenue, Watts said he can create a traffic pattern that mitigates Reynosa’s concern, which is that the intersection of O Street and Kamm is very close to where Wright will connect with Kamm and collisions could increase. Watts said the city can put an island median in the road so that anyone on Wright can only turn right onto Kamm.

As part of the development approval, the city council will have final say on those mitigation efforts when the time comes.

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