Hundreds Vote on Valley Blueprint Plan

Jan 26, 2009

Ashley Ritchie and Winston Whitehurst, KMPH Fox 26

Hundreds packed the Fresno Convention Center Monday to discuss where the Valley will be more than 40 years from now.

"The key is you cannot plan for a crisis in the middle of a crisis. You have to plan out. So the beauty of this blueprint is we have the ability to start planning for 2050 today," Kirk Hunter, with the Fresno County Blueprint Committee, said.

So plan, they did, for a Valley that's expected to double in growth by 2050.

"Each county is different. But the idea is to have a unified growth plan so the Valley can grow as one as opposed to eight individual counties," Hunter said.

But how to pack in more people, in the same amount of space is a little tricky. "If we continue to grow much of the way we have over the past 100 years, we will continue to eat into much of our prime ag land," Nathan Magsig, with the Blueprint Regional Advisory Committee, said.

Organizers say maintaining ag and water resources, while looking at ways to connect our roads are major issues.

"We may not all agree on the best way to do that, but what I so appreciate is we're asking those questions now," Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said.

"I think the process is very valid. It's not perfect, but it's very valid," Jeff Roberts, Granville Homes, said.

53% of the nearly 600 people at the summit voted on a plan that would put 31 people, or about ten homes on each acre of new development, compared to the four homes right now.

But for those new developers, the plan poses a slight concern.

"My fear is that all this talk will translate into a new fee for new home construction, which obviously gets transferred from the developer to the buyer," Roberts said.

The approved plan still must be voted on and approved by each county. Then it will go to Sacramento.

Organizers hope coming up with a Valley-wide blueprint plan will help this area secure more state and federal funding because of the positive example of all eight counties banding together.

Part of Fresno County's blueprint plan included talk of running Highway 65 through Fresno and Madera Counties.