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Bass Lake subdivision hearing next week

The future of a proposed 21-lot subdivision at the west end of Bass Lake will be decided during a special meeting before the Madera County Board of Supervisors at 9 a.m., Monday, Nov. 3.

After a 15-minute hearing Oct. 7 in Madera, the Madera County Planning Commission recommended approval of the subdivision on 10 acres, located on the east side of Road 432, about 280 feet south of its intersection with Road 331 (between the old Bass Lake Elementary School and the Falls Beach). Access to the property would be off Road 432. To the north and south of the property are Falls Tract subdivision homes, and U.S. Forest Service land borders the property to the north.

After a presentation by Jamie Bax, senior planner with the county planning division, and Steve Jones of Jones and Snyder Surveying of Oakhurst, representing the applicant, Paul Contreras of Bass Lake,

The planning commission voted 4-0 to recommend to the supervisors to approve the tentative subdivision map, general plan amendment and rezoning (from public open space to residential) to allow the project to proceed.

The commission also approved a mitigated negative declaration that county planning staff recommended, feeling the project will have no significant environmental impact.

John Reed, planning commission vice-chairman, recused himself from the vote, as he is the real estate broker representing the developer, Paul Contreras.

The property is currently owned by the county, although the parcel is in escrow and will be purchased by Contreras, who has the option to proceed with the project or not if and when the project receives final approval. The option to not proceed is if, in the buyer’s opinion, there are conditions attached to the subdivision map, rezoning, or general plan amendment which significantly impact the intended use.

According to Nicole Desmond, senior administrative analyst with the county administrative office, the parcel was put out to bid by the county on Sept. 9, 2013. The successful bidder at the time withdrew his bid the following week and the property was sold to the next highest bidder, Contreras, on Sept. 24, 2013, for $680,000.

The proposed plan calls for the homes in the subdivision to be connected to the Bass Lake sewer system and water will be provided by Bass Lake Water Company, with the condition that Contreras develops a large enough water source (well) and storage to provide adequate water to the 21 lots. Then the well will become part of the water company assets to maintain, reducing the risk that current customers’ water supply will not be be reduced.

The planning division staff report states the property is physically suitable for the type and density of the proposal.Although no one spoke in opposition to the project at the planning commission meeting two weeks ago, four letters outlining concerns over the proposal were sent to the county planning division.

One letter, from a Fresno resident who has a second home at Bass Lake, outlined concerns including roads and traffic, water, sewer, and noise issues.

The letter pointed out that Bass Lake has been in the area of three fires this summer and if this had been in the peak summertime, and the raging fire traveling at high speed, everyone would not get out because of the high density of population already using Road 432 and that the roads are already narrow and crowded.The letter also noted that this past summer, homes at Bass Lake went from two watering days a week to no outside watering.

The letter also stated that Bass Lake homeowners were lead to believe that the cost of a new sewer treatment plant was only to serve existing homeowners at the lake — not to be used for any new construction.Another second home owner near the planned project, Anjes Morris, feels a full environmental impact report should be required for the subdivision.

“We object to the use of a Mitigated Negative Declaration which should not be allowed because of the impact of traffic on North Shore Road (432), as well as the impact on the water and sewer services,” Morris said after the planning commission hearing.

After review, five county departments (engineering, environmental health, fire, road, and planning) are requiring a number of 'conditions of approval' for the project. The conditions include a drainage plan, a comprehensive fuel reduction plan, a fire hydrant system within 1,000 feet of each parcel, two points of road access, and road encroachment permits.

Details of the proposal, including the planning division’s staff report and conditions of approval, can be seen at madera-county.com, click on planning department.

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