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City airs details of residential proposal

Madera citizens, public officials and a development firm gathered Tuesday at Washington Elementary School to look over plans for a proposed downtown housing development to serve veterans and the elderly, as well as low-income families.

The approximately $27 million project would be located at East 5th and North C streets, about a block north of East Yosemite Avenue, according to Michael Sigala, a developer who has been working with the city and county on the concept for the past several months.

If the venture were approved, the money would come from state grants derived from fuel tax shares set aside to cut the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Being downtown, and having access to public transportation, and being designed for walking and bicycling, the project would give residents options to driving, Sigala said.

None of the money has been granted to Madera, but Sigala said the project is being designed to fulfill the desire of the California Legislature to keep people from using their cars as much as in the past.

Mayor Andrew Madellen, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Montes, and City Council Members Don Holley, Santos Garcia and Cece Gallegos were present at the meeting.

Linda Shaw, executive director of the Madera Housing Authority, and Madera’s new city manager, Arnoldo Rodriguez, also were present.

Gallegos is the new chair of the Madera Housing Authority, which is part of the governmental consortium cooperating in the enterprise.

Sigala said 28, 1-bedroom and studio apartments would be built to accommodate the needs of veterans, seniors and the disabled. He said he wasn’t sure how much the rents would be, “but just know they will be affordable.”

The apartments will have elevators and balconies, he said.

The project also will include 20 units of family housing, with two or three bedrooms each, and plenty of off-street parking.

The project will include 27,000 linear feet of new sidewalks, lit with flashing beacons.

“That’s five miles of new sidewalks,” Sigala said, also mentioning there would be five miles of bicycle lanes.

After Sigala’s presentation, those in attendance looked at schematics, maps and drawings, and used colored dots to indicate what features they liked or didn’t like.

Details of the project were aired again at Wednesday’s special City Council meeting, and the council voted to authorize the city manager to execute all applications for the affordable housing and sustainable program on behalf of the city.

The council also voted to reimburse the project developer no more than $90,000 for off-site improvements for the project, and to set development impact fees for the project at $257,472.

In other business:

• Council members heard a presentation by Elizabeth Wisener of the Community Action Partnership of Madera County on the point-in-time count of the county’s homeless population currently under way, and various programs available for helping the homeless.

• At the request of the city manager, the council voted to extend employment contracts of city department heads by another 60 days while negotiations over the contracts remain under way.

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