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Casey Christie / The Californian

This vacant 12-acre parcel of land at River Run Boulevard and Elkhorn Creek Lane may soon have 53 single-family homes built here.

A unanimous Bakersfield Planning Commission vote on Thursday paved the way for 53 single-family houses to be built in the southwest on a former school site.

The commission's 4-0 vote approving a tract map, with no discussion and Commissioner Jeffrey Tkac absent, made official a grading permit issued last month for the 12-acre site at River Run Boulevard and Elkhorn Creek Lane.

It was a peaceful turning point for a project with contentious beginnings dating to the spring, when about 30 neighbors protested after learning then-developer Black Ops Real Estate IV, LLC, planned to build apartments in a neighborhood of houses.

Faced with organized opposition, Black Ops changed its plans from apartments to condos, then switched to houses in July. The project is now being developed by Kern Land Partners, LLC.

The commission also unanimously approved changes to Silver Creek Plaza that could bring a new retailer to the shopping center at Panama Lane and Ashe Road. It OK'd replacing a planned 3,000-square-foot drive-through restaurant with a nearly 12,000-square-foot retail building.