Santa Paula Planning Commission | Five Year Capital Plan, Sparkuhl Ranch, BendPak Expansion

 By Sheryl Hamlin

After honoring Commissioner Michael E. Sommer for sixteen years as a member of the Santa Paula Planning Commission, the commission engaged in discussions of the Five Year Capital Plan, Sparkuhl Ranch and the BendPak Expansion.

Five Year Capital Plan

Butch Britt, Acting Public Works Director, who retired from the Ventura County Public Works department in 2010, has been serving Santa Paula while a search for a permanent Public Works Director is underway.

During the April 24, 2018 meeting, Mr. Britt presented a new format for the CIP (Capital Improvement Plan). Formerly, the CIP had simply been a list of projects. Mr. Britt reformatted the projects based on need and anticipated funding and displayed the projects over a five year period grouped by Buildings/Community Services, Sewer, Streets and Water. Drilling down from the chronological presentation, he provided a sheet on each project with estimated costs and sources of funding.

5 Year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

Commissioner Ikerd remarked on several new projects: Police station, Community Center, Railroad Depot resurfacing, all new to CIP and without project numbers. Commissioner McPhail remarked on the high cost of design in the projects, particularly the scoreboard, where the design cost appeared to be more than the cost to buy a ready made scoreboard, he said.

The CIP in its new format will become a management tool for council and staff.

To download the details of the CIP, click here.

Sparkuhl Ranch Becomes “The Arbors”

First approved on November 7, 2005, the project has changed ownership, but the site plan is essentially the same. The project is still 19 lots on an 11.28 acre parcel with one means of ingress/egress via Forest Driive. However, there are enough changes to the project details, according to the lawyer hired by Gina Mathwin, to warrant additional CEQA review (California Environmental Quality Act).

Conceptual View of “The Arbors”

James Mason, Deputy Planning Director, reported that the project will include a local biofill station and bioswales, which will bring it closer to current standards for storm water management. Additionally, he said there would be a community park, HOA maintained, but with public access. Four homes would be restricted to single story due to privacy concerns. Note that the homes were raised seven feet due to flooding concerns, as an original requirement, but will not be higher than other homes in The Oaks, according to James Mason. The site plan features long driveways, a staggered layout, 20,000 square foot lots and seven different home elevations to produce a semi-custom quality to avoid tract character, he said. Says Mason: The overall site will follow the historical contours and drainage from the higher elevations in existing neighborhoods to the west and north.

There are 98 Conditions of Approval (COA) which are normally in an overlay, said Mason, but due to neighborhood involvement, the COA have been enumerated prior to approval.

Commissioner McPhail asked about the arborist report. Planner Mason indicated that two such reports were done and they are now marking trees for preservation.

Commissioner McPhail expressed concerns about the width of Forest Drive near the island and the lack of multiple ways of ingress/egress from the project. Can all 17 homes exit rapidly in the event of a fire, asked McPhail. Other McPhail concerns: Rock crushing on site will produce dust and noise, the elevations are not really seven unique designs and the MND of 2004/2005 is not adequate.

James Mason said that traffic studies were based on the 1998 General Plan which was increased per growth patterns forecast in 1998 for the current period. Rock crushing, he said, will reduce grading and hauling.

Gina Mathwin, resident, read a letter with concerns expressed at previous meetings and in correspondence. About 20 in the audience stood in support of her statement. The attorney’s letter cited rock crushing, trees, elevations as examples of changes since the original MND/CEQA. How was the debris basin sized, she asked? Is the city liable if inadequate? How can this be consistent with the General Plan if no fire services? There is no analysis of the surrounding property, she said, so the application is incomplete.

Joy Cummings, whose home is adjacent to the Sparkuhl project, cited rock crushing, noise, filth, trees and traffic as issues. She asked who maintains the biofilter? Can toxic waste run to the creek? Note, this question was also raised by the Friends of the Santa Clara River. What fireproof materials are used in the home construction, she asked. The streets on the Oaks should be resurfaced by the developer due to wear and tear from construction.

Staff Comments

Jana Minsk, Planning Director, summarized the citizen issues into categories: rock crushing, traffic study and fire safety, CEQA/MND and Arborist report.

Ruth Mansi, project manager, said the there will be only three weeks of rock crushing. They have a permit through the VCWSPD (Ventura County Watershed Protection District) to haul out through a creek road.

James Mason indicated there will be two new trees per lot planted. One tree to be removed was destroyed in the Thomas fire. The Fire Department certified the adequacy of the turnarounds, he said, and homes will be sprinklered and built of fire resistant materials. As to access to Santa Paula Creek, there is no agreement with the city, hence all access now enjoyed by neighbors is trespassing. To download Planner Mason’s entire presentation, Sparkuhl Ranch Planned Devlelopment Permit Planning Commission Presentation 4-24-18.

Ruth Mansi added that the grading of rocks will save importing dirt because the crushed rocks will be used for the streets.

Fred Robinson said that the Oaks is a “rock bed” and that the sprinklers did not work in Ventura.

Commissioner Somers moved with Commission Eikerd seconding the motion to approve. The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner McPhail opposed to the motion and the project.

After this, Joy Cummings addressed the dais saying she was “angry” because this meeting was supposed to address issues. She was deemed out of order and the commission took a break.

BendPak Expansion

As described in the staff report, this project includes the following:

A request by Donald Henthorn, CEO of BendPak, for a Community Development Permit (Lot Merger, Planned Development, Conditional Use Permit, Landscape Review, and Sign Review) to allow a new 40,081-sf BendPak warehouse and distribution center in the Lemonwood Industrial Park. The property is currently in use as a parking lot and outdoor storage area.

The only detail requiring a CUP (Conditional Use Permit) is the FAR (floor area ratio) of .44 which is above the .25 normally specified for industrial. All other details of the project meet zoning specifications. The project is highly landscaped and will be visible from the street until the trees develop.

Aerial View of lots 6,7,8, and 9

BendPak proposes to combine lots 6 and 7 (yellow line) into one for the latest project. They purchased lots 8 and 9 in 1994 and 2006 respectively. They also own the property at 250 Dove Court, a project which was reviewed earlier.

The roads are deteriorating, according to Planner Dante Doberneck, whose staff reports included pictures of such. The applicant will pay for partial road repair and would consider relief from some fees. James McKnight who works for the BendPak CEO indicated that they paid high impact fees two years ago. This project is a continuation of that vision.

The project was approved unanimously.

See the popular BendPak products here.

An interesting piece of Santa Paula History: Lemonwood Industrial Park was founded in 1981 from the former Redline Ranch property. With this BendPak project, the entire Industrial Park has been completely built out, almost 40 years after initial approval of the park.

Staff Announcements

Jana Minsk announced that this was her last meeting. She would retire as of April 30, 2018. Council has interviewed replacement commissioners for Sommer and Robinson, so there is a chance for new commissioners in May 2018.

For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com

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