The first development slated for the northeast urban village Heritage Grove was officially approved June 28 by a unanimous planning commission.
The Lennar Homes development will be constructed on 168 acres located on the northwest corner of Shepherd and Sunnyside avenues. The property is currently an almond orchard farmed by the Ricchiuti family of P-R Farms and Enzo’s Table. The planned residential community will consist of 568 homes at four different elevations or lot sizes—a unique mixed concept meant to blend the surrounding rural residential area with the higher density homes.
Arakel Arisian, a representative of Lennar and the Ricchiuti family, said there will be 159 lots sized 50 by 75, 161 lots sized 50 by 100, 130 lots sized 60 by 100, and 122 pinnacle product lots sized at 70 by 110. The larger sized homes, he said, will be located along parks and entryways to give the community a grand feel, but those closest to current neighbors to the northwest will be smaller. The plan is that the majority, if not all, of the homes will be one story.
“One of the opportunities by integrating all of these different lot sizes is that you get a pretty good balance amongst all of them so that you can meet the needs of a diverse population,” Arisian said. “This is unique. Even some projects that have varying lot sizes will put them in different sections, but we’ve actually mixed them up because we think that creates a more integrated, walkable community. It also creates one with more interest and you come in and see different lots and house elevations so we’re hoping it comes off well.”
As for the look and feel of the community, Arisan said Lennar is working closely with city staff to create a development that incorporates the spirit of Heritage Grove, with designs that harken back to Clovis history.
An expansion of the current trail is also planned with a diagonal route through the center of the new community with a park space on each side of the Enterprise Canal. Bringing back the tree-lined street is also a goal of the development with seven-foot planters being designed between each street and sidewalk to make room for larger shade trees that encourage outdoor activity and walkability. All this green space will be owned by the city but maintained by a homeowners association (HOA), Arisian said.
While rural residential neighbors were not opposed to the development, some brought up concerns about water. The current residents in the area are part of the county and rely on well water and they expressed concern over losing the groundwater percolation provided by flood irrigation of the current orchard.
“My issue is we have a finite resource and one that is going down in our area,” resident Patrick Menagh said before the commission. “I’m not asking anyone to do something to put more water in the ground but I sure don’t want less water in the ground, so I just ask for you to use significant thought and wisdom when you look at the water situation out there. A dry hole in the ground for a well does not provide water for a home. We have to make sure as we plan this project between the developer and the city that it’s done right.”
Arisian and city staff explained that the development would not have a drastic impact on water as it will rely on surface water, and the yards will be irrigated using recycled water similar to the Harlan Ranch community that is on the purple pipe system. Water runoff will also be diverted to a current ponding basin north of the project and that basin should recharge the groundwater.
“I think we found ourselves in these [neighborhood] meetings quite a bit talking about water and discussing its importance and this idea that there needs to be regional level of collaboration,” Arisian said. “We hope to do our part by putting in the water lines. A 24-inch water line is significantly larger than what is needed to serve just our project. Potentially there could be something to utilize that resource in the future.”
Increased traffic in the area was a secondary concern brought up by neighbors.
Lennar has made great strides in mitigating traffic concerns over the course of several neighborhood meetings. The development currently plans to address traffic by widening the westbound lane on Shepherd and putting in a signal at Shepherd and Sunnyside. The city is also planning to put a second light at Minnewawa and Shepherd. A roundabout on Sunnyside will also be constructed by the development to slow down traffic headed north.
Pending final approval from the city council, Arisian said Lennar plans to begin the annexation process this summer and begin doing initial groundwork for phase one of three phases in the fall, with models set to open in spring 2019. He estimated it will take about five years, give or take depending on the market, for the project to reach completion all the way north to Perrin and west to Clovis Avenue.