The City of Turlock is recognized as a Streamlining Superstar for their successful implementation of the Westside Industrial Specific Plan (WISP) that paved the way for development of an “Agri-Science Cluster.” While Specific Plans are not new tools, the City of Turlock deserves recognition for tailoring one that streamlines the process for approving new agricultural businesses that thrive in the central valley. The economic development benefits were celebrated in Turlock with the grand opening of a 200,000 square-foot Blue Diamond almond processing plant that is bringing 300 new jobs to the city.
The WISP created the city’s Regional Industrial Park, encompassing 2,615 acres. Approval of the WISP was concurrent with a certified Environmental Impact Report (EIR), making the city ready to welcome developments like Blue Diamond’s new almond processing facility. By adopting the WISP, the City of Turlock planned and invested in infrastructure that is friendly to agri-business, from truck circulation to wastewater facilities to proximity to a new energy plant, and environmental impacts of potential new industrial uses were studied in the EIR that was adopted with the Specific Plan. “With the Master Plan and environmental approval already completed, the city was able to issue entitlements and complete the project-level environmental review for Blue Diamond within roughly ten weeks of the application,” said Maryn Pitt, Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing.
Since the Master Plan was already completed, the City was able to immediately create a joint construction team during the building permit review and construction phases of the project. The City’s expedited plan review process as well as a phased issuance of building permits kept the project moving. “Blue Diamond had a great contractor, and the City dedicated a building inspector full time to the project,” added Pitt. Operation of the first test line took place within a year and three days of the issuance of the building permit, which was made possible by the Master Plan process performing a streamlining function.
In addition to thoughtful planning, the City of Turlock made an earnest effort to improve the customer service experience of those who do business with the city. The City studied their project routing processes to identify opportunities for increased efficiency and engaged Merced College’s Customer Service Academy to provide onsite training. The classes provided cutting edge training designed to enhance team work, customer service skills, and to empower employees with the capabilities needed to effectively work with customers and co-workers.
For more information about the City of Turlock’s Westside Industrial Specific Plan, visit this link. ...Read More