As Harlan Ranch residents continue to wait patiently for a commercial center to be built along Owens Mountain Parkway for their use, the community’s homeowner’s association (HOA) is looking to expand its clubhouse and provide residents with a larger meeting space expansive enough for large-scale events like weddings and retirement parties.
According to Harlan Ranch HOA president Brian Burry, the now nearly complete community boasts 1,650 homes and just under 4,000 residents, rendering its current little clubhouse, with a maximum capacity of just 54 people, inadequate.
“When Harlan Ranch was only half grown, the clubhouse was really great. But, now that it’s all done, trying to hold events has become difficult,” Burry said.
The area surrounding the current Harlan Ranch clubhouse and fenced pool and recreation spot is owned by the City of Clovis and is part of a landscape maintenance district (LMD) area residents contribute tax monies to for the city to maintain. The Harlan Ranch HOA has proposed expanding its current clubhouse into this area.
Clovis City Planner Bryan Araki said the proposed expansion is the simplest solution for the HOA to accomplish its expansion goal.
“The HOA approached city staff and asked us to look into the possibility of expanding their recreation center area, not only the building but to expand into the yard space outside of it,” Araki said. “Right now, they are constrained to their private area being inside their fenced area that surrounds the pool, so the thought was the HOA could lease space or purchase land from the city to accommodate an expansion. One of the best scenarios is for the city to outright sell a portion of the open space there to the HOA to allow for this.”
The portion of land in question, Araki said, is comparable to about .15 acres and is located immediately southeast of the current clubhouse parking area, adjacent to the recreation center. That particular area is not heavily used, Araki said, as most residents prefer to utilize the larger grass area west of the pool.
The sale of this small portion of land would not only benefit those in Harlan Ranch, but the city as well because parks staff would no longer need to maintain it as part of the LMD.
The only hitch in the plan is the area’s strict zoning, which as it stands would prevent the HOA from putting a retail style coffee shop inside the expanded clubhouse—one idea Burry said would encourage community by providing a gathering place for residents.
“The HOA has made comments about being able to provide coffee service and pastries and things like that. We would need to work that out,” Araki said. “This is an area that is zoned planned commercial center with the original Harlan Ranch, but it has tight restrictions on the use of the planned commercial center (PCC) zoning. It’s not like a PCC at the mall that allows retail uses so we would need to work those out through this process and bring it back to the council once we get to a point that we have an agreement that is feasible for the city and the HOA.”
With or without the coffeehouse option, Burry said the expansion will add great benefit to Harlan Ranch residents.
“This area 30 feet east of our building up to 75 feet east would allow us to both expand our building a little bit to have a larger patio to accommodate a larger group for a wedding or party,” Burry said. “We do 140 family events a year in that little clubhouse so the extra patio area will help out a lot and as you know we maintain it for the city so that will save you some money not having to maintain that section. Regarding the coffee and pastries, that is just meant is for our members to be able to stop by and have a little place to sit around and have discussions, it’s not going to be an open commercial coffee site, just a little gathering site for our members. We appreciate your consideration because it would allow the residents to enjoy more activities in their family center.”
Mayor Bob Whalen said he thinks the idea of the coffee site and expanded center will appease residents who have been waiting far too long in his opinion for the last seven-acre parcel zoned for commercial use to be developed in Harlan Ranch along Owens Mountain Parkway and Highway 168.
“Every time I meet with the owners of that land, I press them on this issue because I do believe that was a promise made to the Harlan Ranch folks that there would be an opportunity for them to engage in a commercial center with a grocery store and/or coffee shop. That promise remains unfulfilled and that is frustrating for me,” Whalen said. “I believe that Harlan Ranch is really a microcosm of what we hope to have in our larger villages like Loma Vista and Heritage Grove so this is really a proof of concept but until that area gets developed out, we won’t really have that proof of concept. In the meantime, this idea may be an alternative. I know we still need to work out negotiations for a coffee and pastry type of place there, but this may be an opportunity for us to test whether indeed the Harlan Ranch folks are interested in something like this and the HOA is willing to take the risk to do that.”