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Progress Being Made On Downtown Plan
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Meeting on March 20, Riverbank Planning Commission made some progress in public hearings on amending the general plan and adopting the downtown specific plan.

Commissioners approved changes in the general plan to revise the land use classification of higher density residential to an alternative classification of mixed use.

The higher density residential category allowed single family and multi-family housing including condominiums, apartment buildings, townhouses and similar residences to be developed at a net density of 16 or more dwelling units per acre.

The mixed use land classification allows neighborhood-scale retail uses, offices, personal and commercial services and similar land uses as well as a higher density residential development in a vertical or horizontal mixed-use setting.

This amendment would affect a total land area of approximately 9.175 acres.

The commission also recommended certification of the environmental impact report (EIR) for the downtown specific plan but continued adoption of the downtown plan to the next planning meeting on April 17.

Prepared as an initial study in October of 2010 by Matthew Gerken of the Sacramento company Aecom, the downtown plan tries to guide the long term revitalization of the historical downtown through infill, redevelopment and adaptive re-use. The draft specific plan proposes design guidelines for private development so that private developers will complement the public improvements made in the downtown development project.

The 218 acre specific plan area includes properties between Callander and Seventh Street and between Atchison Street and Patterson Road including the parcels fronting Atchison to the north.

The specific plan area is centered on the historical commercial downtown core. South and west of it is a mix of residential, commercial and cultural uses. West of the railroad that runs north-south and bisects the downtown are industrial and light industrial uses including the former cannery site, which is planned for redevelopment as part of the downtown plan. The cannery district comprises about 31 acres that were formerly occupied by the Sun Garden Gangi Canning Company.

This area has stood unused for a couple of years. But the downtown plan envisages providing access to it through a westward extension of Santa Fe Street underneath the railroad tracks to Callander Avenue and development of the area for multiple uses.