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Neighbors Appeal 4-Story NW Fresno Apartment Project. What Are They Saying?
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By Edward Smith
Published 4 days ago on
May 13, 2024

The Fresno Planning Commission will hear an appeal to a 4-story apartment complex at Herndon and Prospect avenues on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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A 4-story apartment complex overlooking a northwest Fresno neighborhood will go before the city of Fresno Planning Commission on Wednesday after several neighbors appealed the project.

A neighbor of the complex at Herndon and Prospect avenues is organizing residents to oppose the project, saying the 82-unit development will clog traffic and further saturate already-limited parking in the area.

“The neighbors didn’t know until recently — like the last year-and-a-half — that this complex had been approved and it could be 50 feet high and four stories,” said Vicky Allen-Westburg, a northwest resident and former educator. “The concern of the neighbors isn’t what people want to make it, which is NIMBY. The concern is, will our current infrastructure support a building this large?”

A rendering of the 82-unit Lincoln Park Apartments (City of Fresno)

4-Story Apartment Building Would Be Tallest in the Area

The 4-acre property had been zoned for a neighborhood shopping center until the 2015 General Plan changed it to allow multi-family development of 16 to 30 units per acre.

The developer, Land Value Management, proposed the 82 units to be built across three buildings of 3 and 4 stories. It would also have a community center and four garage buildings.

Zoning for the land changed along with many other parcels during the 2015 General Plan, under then-Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s administration.

A GV Wire request for comment from Land Value Management went unanswered.

The 4-story building would be the tallest permanent housing unit on Herndon Avenue in that area.

It would have its own dog park, barbecue area, and swimming pool.

Property Rezoned Without Notification, Neighbors Say

The complaint of neighbors isn’t about apartments, Allen-Westburg said. The problem is with so many people in an already-impacted area.

Allen-Westburg said Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi arranged for a meeting between the city and nearby residents concerning the project in spring 2023.

Several departments showed up at nearby Tatarian Elementary to discuss the project.

“When we were all done talking and sharing our positions, they said ‘it’s a done deal,’ Ashley Swearengin worked this out with the developer,” Allen-Westburg said.

Zoning for the land changed along with many other parcels during the 2015 General Plan, under then-Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s administration. Calls to Swearengin to comment for this story went unanswered.

In the lead-up to the document outlining the future of Fresno land use, city officials held community meetings and took out ads to discuss changes.

But residents say they weren’t properly notified. Allen-Westburg said many residents have lived there more than 20 years.

“No one ever contacted any of us, it was done pretty quietly,” Allen-Westburg said.

Neighbors Want Design Change, Say Density Too High

Given the additional housing, she fears traffic coming from Herndon Avenue would bottleneck onto Prospect Avenue going into the apartments.

Allen-Westburg also says parking from the apartments would overflow onto nearby Fir Avenue and into the lot for Orchid Park, adjacent to the complex.

Developers allowed for 154 parking stalls, 17% higher than the required 132 stalls.

Several comment letters from residents echoed those same concerns.

“While we understand the need for affordable housing in our area, we strongly oppose the scale and design of the current development proposal,” wrote Dexter Marr, a “northwest neighbor” in a letter to the city of Fresno. “However, we remain open to the idea of development that is more in line with the existing aesthetic and scale of our neighborhood.”

Fresno Fire Outlines Problems With Design

If approved, developers would have to change building designs and plans to meet restrictions outlined by public agencies.

The Fresno Fire Department says the current design does not allow the ladder truck enough access to deploy to the street to service the 4-story building.

The Fire Department also noted turns in the development don’t meet access requirements.

Conditions of approval would require the development to meet design standards.

But the comments did worry some residents.

Jeff and Shirley Boswell, for example, noted “the tight quarters to maneuver a huge hook and ladder truck capable of safely accessing a 4-story wood framed high-rise apartment building.”

Allen-Westburg said she expects 75 to 100 people to show up to the meeting opposing the 82-unit Lincoln Park Apartments.

If planners approve the project, either Karbassi or Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer can appeal and bring the project to Fresno City Council for a hearing.

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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.

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