The Clovis City Council met for the second time this month on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. One of the main items on the agenda that had much public interest was the expansion of the city’s sphere of influence for future urbanization north of Shepherd Avenue.
Before the items on the agenda were presented to the city council, there was a proclamation made by the city council. The proclamation was to honor Jaswant Singh Khalra, a Sikh human rights activist who fought against the Indian government’s oppression of the Sikh community and was kidnapped and murdered on Sept. 6, 1995.
A representative of the Sikh community in Clovis was present to receive the proclamation and said that they wanted to express their gratitude to the city for the proclamation and urged everyone to learn more about Singh Khalra. The proclamation marked Sept. 6, 2020, as Jaswant Singh Khalra Day in Clovis.
Once the proclamation was concluded the council began to hear the items on the agenda.
The first item heard was the vote to consider expanding Clovis’ sphere of influence requested by approximately 825 acres as requested by Wilson Premier Homes. The expansion will be north of Shepherd Avenue and between North Carson Avenue and Sunnyside Avenue.
In March of this year, the council approved Wilson Premier Homes’ original plan to develop 75 acres on the corner of Shepherd Avenue and Sunnyside Avenue, however due to COVID-19 they put their plans on hold. Wilson Premier Homes now wants to move forward with the development and are now asking city council to approve an expansion to the project of 750 acres along with the original 75 acres.
Councilmember Lynne Ashbeck commented that this was just a decision to expand the sphere of influence and not to develop anything.
“It isn’t like this is happening right now, it’s the proceeding towards a decision on the expansion of the sphere,” Ashbeck said. “So for folks who worry that this all occurring without them, it’s really starting with them.”
The city council was informed that there will be about 149 property owners that will be impacted by the expansion of the sphere of influence.
During the public comments, a resident of the impacted area Charles Talis commented that they were giving notice of the voting by city council on Friday. Talis also said many of his neighbors did not get the notice and were unaware of what was happening.
“We don’t want anything to do with Clovis, we don’t want your sphere of influence, we like the way we live out there,” Talis said. “We are going to put up a hell of a fight, we do not want Clovis’ sphere of influence at all.”
Norman Morrison, a resident of the Dry Creek Preserve (DCP) said that there has been no outreach to the neighbors. Morrison said that this will leave the DCP in an island directly affecting their way of life.
Morrison also said that people who live in the DCP are in fear of being annexed by the city and that development in that area will affect them. He mentioned that there was no need for this project because there were other similar projects in the city already in development.
“Clovis has hit it’s development, I don’t think there is any call for this development,” Morrison said, “You’re getting a reputation of becoming another Fresno…I have a 10-year-old daughter who said why is Clovis doing this? Why do they want to become Fresno?”
Morrison also commented that the Clovis way of life was not a thing anymore because the agricultural heritage of the city was being erased by all the development.
This statement by Morrison brought out a response by Councilmember Jose Flores who responded to Morrison by saying that the Clovis way of life is not the Fresno County way of life.
“If you live beyond the city limits of Clovis you do not enjoy the Clovis way of life, you enjoy the Fresno County way of life,” Flores said. “We need to take care of our city and guess what, we’ve always been good neighbors…you don’t want to be part of us, we’ll go around you and try to be the best neighbors we can.”
After several more comments from residents of the area disagreeing with the expansion the council voted on the resolution.
Before voting, Councilmember Bob Whalen said that there were exceptions made for different developers and that now he feels as though the exemptions were swallowing the rule. Whalen said he was in favor of the first 75 acre development, but was not in favor of the expansion.
The resolution passed with a vote of 4-1 with the only vote against being that of Councilmember Whalen.