Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Fresno Companies Say They've Been Left out of City's Rezoning Discussions
gvw_edward_smith
By Edward Smith
Published 11 months ago on
June 1, 2023

Share

Two longtime south Fresno businesses appear to have dodged a bullet that would have rezoned their industrial properties to office use.

The city’s planning commission on Wednesday approved a new community specific plan setting land use goals for parts of south Fresno, but business advocates say property owners have been left out of discussions that affect their land.

The Central Southeast Area Specific Plan establishes zoning, transportation and infrastructure standards for Fresno near the Kings Canyon corridor from Orange to Peach avenues between Belmont and Church avenues.

The plan outlines how streets will look with new bike lanes, wider sidewalks and more green space to promote clean neighborhoods primed for growth.

It prioritizes new retail and health care for the 2,200 acres and 30,000 people in the plan boundaries.

But worries about the impacts of industrial businesses has led to two companies being shuffled among different city maps with the land they operate on hanging in the balance.

Donaghy Sales, Hormel Foods Faced Unwanted Zoning Change

In the 2021 draft plan on the city’s website, parcels where liquor distributor Donaghy Sales and Hormel Foods’ Corn Nuts processing facility are located were proposed to be rezoned for office uses. It took action from Fresno city councilmembers to preserve the land for industrial purposes.

The steering committee that helped develop the Central Southeast plan voted to use office zoning as a buffer between industrial and residential areas, according to comments made on the plan by the community group Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, in 2021.

Attorney John Kinsey with Wanger Jones Helsley represents Donaghy Sales.

He said the company’s distribution center had originally been included in the South Central Specific Plan before being moved to the Central Southeast plan. Councilmember Luis Chavez and other council members directed staff to move Donaghy and Hormel back to the South Central plan, with their industrial zoning intact.

 

 

The two pink parcels at Cedar and Church avenues show the original designation of Hormel Foods and Donaghy Sales in the 2021 draft map in the Central Southeast Area Specific Plan.

 

Donaghy now wants to be taken out of the South Central plan, which Kinsey says is more controversial.

The longtime Fresno company, which employs several hundred workers at its facility near Jensen and 99, was never notified about the process, according to Kinsey.

“The city is engaging with community processes but they’re not engaging with businesses,” Kinsey said.

Attorney Says Fresno Has a History of Not Notifying Business Owners

Maps of the Central Southeast plan posted on the city of Fresno website show different boundaries, which created confusion.

Business advocacy group Invest Fresno reached out to Donaghy advising that the plan showed their land zoned as office, according to Ethan Smith, the group’s chairman. That notification prompted Kinsey to pen a letter to city staff.

In the letter, Kinsey asked “what measures have been taken to inform property owners whose zoning may be changed of the CSASP process.” He said he received no response.

Central Southeast plan project manager Drew Wilson said the city had sent two mailers to both residents and businesses.

Multiple requests for comment sent to city staff by GV Wire were not returned.

“This appears to be a continuation of City staff’s recent practice of not providing light industrial landowners with notice that their properties would be downzoned, akin to what occurred in connection with the Southwest Specific Plan in 2017,” Kinsey wrote.

None of the public comments posted by city staff come on the Central Southeast plan came from business advocates.

The Southwest Specific Plan rezoned 93 acres of land between Elm Avenue and Highway 41 to mixed use from light industrial zoning.

City councilmembers are still deciding how to deal with business owners operating out of compliance because of the adoption of the Southwest plan.

At the May 11 meeting, councilmembers directed City Attorney Andrew Janz to come back with options, including a zoning overlay or a total rezone, Kinsey said.

In the case of Elm Avenue rezone, it wasn’t until a property owner filed for a permit to expand their business that they found out they were no longer zoned industrial, Smith said.

Consequences for Land Use Decisions Unconstitutional, Attorney Claims

In the letter to the city of Fresno, Kinsey cites the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on taking private land for public use, saying that rezoning the land has the same effect.

“Government regulation of private property may, in some instances, be so onerous that its effect is tantamount to a direct appropriation or ouster,” Kinsey quoted from the court decision in Lingle v Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

Businesses no longer operating in compliance with designated land use face the potential for massive devaluation of property values, Kinsey said. Businesses can’t increase operations or change uses, for instance from manufacturing to warehousing.

United Security Bank CEO Dennis Woods said in a public comment before the city council October 2022 that business operating out of zoning compliance can’t get conventional financing for capital improvements or for upgrades such as purchasing electric vehicles.

Rezoning Part of Strategy to Clean up Parts of City

Concern about emissions and truck traffic have prompted the authors of specific plans to create mitigating measures against industrial users in south Fresno.

Chavez said environmental justice was a priority of the steering committee.

“That was included by some of the folks that were on the committee. You know, in full transparency, they were the folks that always focus on the environmental justice, you know, agenda,” Chavez said.

In a comment made on the plan by Leadership Council in 2021, the use of office zoning does not go far enough.

“This narrative is harmful as these zoning options bring industrial practices that do not reflect residents’ priorities,” the comment says.

City staff responded by saying parcels zoned for office had been removed and put into the South Central Specific Plan.

Chavez said he worked with planning and development department director Jennifer Clark to remove both Donaghy and Hormel from the plan.

Chavez Says Industrial, Residential Balance Needs to Be Struck

Balancing industrial and residential is a challenge, Chavez said. The focus for these specific plans is on housing and creating clean, safe neighborhoods. But industrial businesses predate the residential areas that have been booming in the area.

People who move into those areas are aware of their proximity to industrial uses.

Resident opposition to industrial uses is not cut and dry, Chavez said. Those annoyed by large trucks coming and going may not be in favor of businesses, but the reaction could be different for those employed by nearby industrial companies.

There are 20 different food processors in Chavez’ district.

“Overwhelmingly for me, I think it’s been more of people that are more concerned with the jobs and the opportunities that they’re providing there for the area,” Chavez said.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

DON'T MISS

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

DON'T MISS

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

DON'T MISS

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

DON'T MISS

It’s ‘Signing Day’ for These Clovis Unified Youngsters

DON'T MISS

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

DON'T MISS

Charges Against Trump and Jan. 6 Rioters at Stake as Supreme Court Hears Debate Over Obstruction Law

DON'T MISS

Fresno Fire and Police Ramp up Probe Into Fires at Cemeteries

DON'T MISS

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

DON'T MISS

Citing Safety, USC Cancels Speech by Valedictorian Who Has Publicly Supported Palestinians

UP NEXT

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

UP NEXT

Fresno Fire and Police Ramp up Probe Into Fires at Cemeteries

UP NEXT

Fresno Coin Gallery Owner Reveals Why Gold & Silver Are Hot Investments

UP NEXT

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

UP NEXT

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

UP NEXT

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

UP NEXT

This Week’s Weather Will Take Us from Fleece to Flip-Flops

UP NEXT

Biden’s Embrace of Trump’s Tariffs Could Spell Trouble for His Reelection: Fareed Zakaria

UP NEXT

Tesla Is Planning to Lay Off 10% of Its Workers After Dismal 1Q Sales

Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

32 mins ago

It’s ‘Signing Day’ for These Clovis Unified Youngsters

Local Education /

39 mins ago

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

46 mins ago

Charges Against Trump and Jan. 6 Rioters at Stake as Supreme Court Hears Debate Over Obstruction Law

1 hour ago

Fresno Fire and Police Ramp up Probe Into Fires at Cemeteries

1 hour ago

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

1 hour ago

Citing Safety, USC Cancels Speech by Valedictorian Who Has Publicly Supported Palestinians

1 hour ago

Paris Hilton Backs California Bill to Bring More Transparency to Youth Treatment Facilities

1 hour ago

House to Send Mayorkas Impeachment Articles to the Senate, Forcing a Trial

2 hours ago

Parker Wins MLB Debut as Nationals Beat Dodgers on Jackie Robinson Day

2 hours ago

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

Michigan’s NCAA Sanctions Michigan was given three years of probation, fined and hit with recruiting limits by the NCAA on Tuesday aft...

1 min ago

1 min ago

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

5 mins ago

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

Breaking News /
16 mins ago

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

32 mins ago

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

Local Education /
39 mins ago

It’s ‘Signing Day’ for These Clovis Unified Youngsters

46 mins ago

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

1 hour ago

Charges Against Trump and Jan. 6 Rioters at Stake as Supreme Court Hears Debate Over Obstruction Law

1 hour ago

Fresno Fire and Police Ramp up Probe Into Fires at Cemeteries

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend