The city of Lemoore is taking a page from Hanford’s handbook by removing parkland for commercial development, but in Lemoore’s case the opposition is because the proposed use could end up being a marijuana facility.
In Hanford people opposed to the possible sale of 18 acres west of the existing Hidden Valley Park at 11th and Cortner want the acreage expanded to the west so the park can be enlarged.
In 2019 the city council rezoned the expansion property for housing development and declared the property surplus. Signature gathering for a voter-sponsored ballot initiative to stop any sale is underway. On Tuesday (5/4/21) a majority of the council said it would consider an agenda item May 18 to rezone the property back to parkland.
But in Lemoore the issues are different on the property at 19 ½ and Cedar Lane and approvals by the planning commission and the council have occurred to convert the property from parkland to professional office. Additional approvals would be required before a marijuana facility could be approved within the professional office zone, said City Manager Nathan Olson.
When the rezoning was first proposed at the March 8 planning commission meeting, Mark Gleaton, a neighbor to the site, said in an email to the commission meeting, that he and other neighbors didn’t want a marijuana facility at the site.
A majority of the commission approved the rezoning which involves a general plan amendment.
The general plan is the city’s blueprint for development and controls city building and planning decisions. Since amendments are considered major actions, only a limited number are allowed each year.
Then, when the council held its first hearing on the rezone on April 20 no one spoke or gave any written opposition to the change, said Olson. The rezone was also approved unanimously at a second reading at the May 4 council meeting, he said.
Lemoore currently has revenues from retail marijuana stores and revenue is expected from growing operations already approved by city authorities. The retail stores are owned by Natural Healing Center is at 338 W D St. and Valley Pure is at 398 E St.
Lemoore has a marijuana growing facility under construction at Venture Place near Highways 41 and 198. Another 83-acre grow site by Farm Lemoore is approved. It is located North of Jackson and East of Highway 41. Farm Lemoore has an ownership connection with Natural Healing, the retail operation, Olson said.
“Without cannabis revenue and budget revenues (we’re) facing more layoffs. (Marijuana operations) bought us more time to get other businesses in,” said Olson.
Among those businesses are Helena Chemical which is a large fertilizer operation. Helena is moving from Hanford—the defendant in a lawsuit filed by Helena—to Lemoore.
Lemoore had a $2.9 million deficit last summer and after the defeat of a 1 percent sales tax increase last November the situation was not looking good.
However, multi-millions in federal stimulus money is potentially available if the city applies and is awarded the funds, Olson said.
The city is still trying to determine what the money can be used for, he said.
Mark Pratter is a founding member of “saveourparkland93230,” a group formed to save the undeveloped 18 acres of Hidden Valley Park.