COARSEGOLD – The Madera County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Monday to approve a General Plan Amendment and Rezoning for 20.48 acres on the southwest corner of Highway 41 and Yosemite Springs Parkway.
Dennis Jonathan requested the zoning change from AR (Agricultural Residential) to HSC (Highway Service Commercial), CC (Community Commercial) and HDR (High Density Residential) designations in order to develop a retail/professional business park.
Plans for the property, which is owned by Hershel W. Noonkester and Teddy A. Noonkester, include a mini-mart, gas station, space for offices and businesses, and a senior adult (age 55+) apartment complex.
“This will bring much needed services to Eastern Madera County,” Jonathan told the Board. “There are lots of little shops ready to go in, and our development will help stop people leaving the county to spend money, plus provide jobs and tax revenue.”
Jonathan says the plans call for a senior housing complex with about 30 units, something he says is sorely needed in the mountain area.
“People move their families up here and then retire, and they don’t want to take care of a large piece of property any more, but they don’t want to leave the community,” he said. “There really is a shortage of senior housing in the area, and it is much needed.”
Jonathan said that support for the project is large and it’s local.
“There are dozens of people here today to speak in support of this project, and they are not from outside the area. They are right in the heart of the community.”
Jonathan also told the Board that the project was designed with local values in mind.
“Our guidelines are strict. We are not going to overbuild. It’s not going to be a large strip mall. It’s a small little village, with small little shops added to the community, and will have a great deal of beautiful, low water landscaping.”
Dan Cunning, CEO of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau, voiced his support citing the importance of growth in the county and tourism.
“About 1.2 million visitors pass through the southern entrance to Yosemite each year, and they are looking for services all along the way,” he told the Board.
One resident did speak in opposition to the plan, citing traffic congestion, a shortage of water and the current availability of 34 acres of commercial property just two miles south of Yosemite Springs Parkway at Road 200.
Kenneth Wright, who lives 1/2 mile south of the proposed project, stated that a much better option would be the area near Road 200 because the visibility is better for exiting and entering Highway 41, and the location would better serve Minarets High School, the potential customers from the Outback facility, and the tourists who would be far more likely to stop there than they would be to turn into Yosemite Lakes Park.
Madera County Road Commissioner Johannes Hoevertsz addressed questions about road improvements at the intersection, stating that an additional left turn lane would be added at the Yosemite Springs Parkway turnoff, and that deceleration and acceleration lanes would also be put in place. Road 207, which is currently designated as emergency access only, would remain so, though some improvements would be required.
Hoevertsz also stated that the entrance into the new business park would be located as far from the Highway 41/Yosemite Springs Parkway intersection as possible.
The application was originally submitted in September, 2012. Jonathan was advised at that time that no new commercial development was permitted as per the 1980 O’Neals Area Plan. Jonathan then pursued an amendment to the O’Neals Area Plan, and on Feb. 11, 2013, the Board of Supervisors approved a General Plan Text Change to the O’Neals Area Plan allowing for “rural commercial development to be limited to locations adjacent to major activity nodes and major transportation corridors.”
Mitigated Negative Declaration #2013-29 has been prepared for the project and 28 separate mitigation measures are included. The project has prepared the following technical reports thus far – Traffic Study, Biological Report and Cultural Report.
At the Planning Commission hearing on Jan. 7, the Commission voted 5-0 recommending approval to the Board of Supervisors, and on Feb. 24, the Board voted 5-0 to approve the changes. No definite timeline for the project was presented.
For the complete layout of the plan, including maps and exhibits, click here.