Lemoore Council sets aside Navy's concerns, approves steps to allow new subdivision west of Highway 41

By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore Council sets aside Navy's concerns, approves steps to allow new subdivision west of Highway 41

Despite strong words from Lemoore Naval Air Station’s base commander – that a vote to approve a 362-home subdivision, adjacent to West Hills Community College, could lead to encroachment and subject residents to higher aircraft noise – Lemoore’s four council members rejected those pleas. They voted to proceed with plans to build homes near West Hills College.

Council members unanimously voted to approve a series of actions paving the way for Lennar Homes, already a major Lemoore home builder, to build up to 362 single-family homes – in three phases – across from the local community college.

The project could begin in earnest around September 2020. Home sizes range from 1,103 square feet to 2,985 square feet and would be located directly across from the existing college adjacent to College Avenue and Bush Street to the north.

“This is a request for five separate approvals that together would approve a 362-lot single-family subdivision,” said Lemoore City Planner Steve Brandt. “The site is located at the southeast corner of College Avenue just east of West Hills College.

“The plan is to develop the site in three phases,” continued Brandt. “The first phase would have 152 homes; the second would have 107 homes  and third phase 103 homes.” 

The Lemoore Planning Commission also approved Lennar’s proposal.

However, as in past proposals adjacent to the community college and west of Lemoore proper, the United States Navy raised objections, citing encroachment, incompatible development, and higher aircraft noise.

NAS Lemoore Base Commander Capt. Douglas Peterson, during the public hearing, objected to Lemoore’s latest effort to provide housing west of Highway 41, adjacent to the college. “We are also concerned that it would expose aircrew and future Lemoore residents to unnecessary health and safety risks,” he said.

Peterson cited several issues with the construction of housing north of Highway 41:

  • Lemoore’s remoteness and good flying weather are great for the Navy. Allowing for residential construction underneath a pre-existing flight corridor will encroach on that mission.
  • Allowing residential development underneath flight patterns “is incompatible” with Naval Air Station Lemoore’s mission and will affect mission readiness, aircraft wise.
  • Future residents will be exposed to future sound levels at 89 to 101 decibels, about 90 decibels average.
  • If approved, the development will lead to risk and conflict between the Navy and the city, which the Navy wishes to avoid.

Peterson added that if the housing development is approved, it could lead to risk and conflict between Navy and city, something the navy captain said they would “wish to avoid.”

Council members and city staff insisted that growth needed to occur in the college area. “At this point, we need to stay the course. I understand the base’s concerns, but you know this is a Navy town,” said Lemoore City Manager Nathan Olson.  “Jets fly over my house every day. I love the sound of those jets. They don’t bother me.”

Former West Hills Community College Chancellor Frank Gornick reminded the council and Navy officials that when he helped plan the college, residential growth and commercial developments were always a part of the area’s future growth.

“The noise of the jets? That dog doesn’t hunt anymore,” said Gornick. “Everybody likes the sound of that. I would advise the Navy that it doesn’t really make any difference to us. It is the sound of freedom to us.”


Lemoore Council sets aside Navy's concerns, approves steps to allow new subdivision west of Highway 41

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