New issues and old jam Buellton city council agenda

 

Concerns about a condominium project, protection for mobile home owners’ investment in their residences, annexation of a parcel of land and sharing the costs of a transit project shaped the July 10 city council meeting in Buellton.

The condo project, at 655 Central Ave., is an item that was continued from the council’s June 12 meeting, as a number of questions that were raised by the public were studied by staff and the council was apprised of the new information.

 

A neighbor of the project brought up a number of objections to the project, saying that the three-story building will have the potential of invading the privacy they currently enjoy because they have no neighbor on the north side of their property. Mark Edwards, agent for the property developer, said that the setback of 18 feet and doubling of the number of trees along the south portion of the property will effectively block the view of the neighboring property, providing necessary privacy. The developer has agreed to plant an additional 50 trees to replace any that have or may have been removed from the property in the past.

 

Local attorney John Dorwin disagreed with the council’s determination that the former Buell house, which was moved from the property many years ago, was not an historical landmark. The project should have not received the negative declaration to allow the project to continue without an environmental review, he said.

Dorwin also noted that two covered reservoirs on the bluff above the project location could be a hazard in the event of an earthquake. City public works director Bill Albrecht said that the reservoirs had been built in the 1950s and 60s, were of concrete construction, and were not above ground but built into the ground. City planning director Marc Bierdzinski said that the reservoirs are not a safety hazard.

Buellton resident Ron Dale also criticized the project as the density was more than five times the allowed density envisioned by the city’s general plan.

 

“I’m very concerned…I looked at this as a neighboring property and spent three hours studying these plans,” said Dale. The buildings will occupy only a small portion of the property, with a density approaching 50 units per acre, more than five times allowed under the general plan, he said.

The council indicated through their discussions that they were satisfied that the concerns brought forward were sufficiently mitigated by the developer. Councilman Dale Molesworth moved for approval of the project with the addition of more trees and a six foot fence. The motion was passed on a 3-2 vote (Diane Whitehair, Dale Molesworth, and Ed Andrisek voting in favor, Victoria Pointer and Russ Hicks voting no).

 

The council was asked by the Homeowners Association of Ranch Club Mobile Estates at 330 West Highway 246 to adopt an ordinance allowing mitigation and relocation costs in the event of a change in use of a city mobile home park. The item was carried over from the May 8 meeting, as the council wanted to wait to see whether Proposition 98 on the June ballot would gain voter approval. Proposition 98 failed, and the council again had to consider the proposal from the mobile home owners.

Ranch Club resident Ruth Strobach advocated passage by the council of a resolution to adopt an ordinance that would protect the homeowners from financial hardship should the mobile home park owner change the use of the property.

 

City staff had gathered similar ordinances from Santa Maria, Huntington Beach, Capitola, and Westminster noting that the ordinance is untested in the courts and adoption may subject the city to litigation.

Staff presented the council with three options: the first option, to take no action but to allow the city to take action on a case-by-case basis; the second, to incorporate certain wording into the municipal code and to allow the matter to come before the council without a request on the part of residents; and the third option, to develop and complete a detailed mobile home park ordinance similar to the ones presented from other cities.

After a short discussion, the council agreed to go forward with the second option, which will give a greater amount of discretion to the council. The measure passed on a 4-0 vote, with Molesworth not participating because of a conflict of interests.

 

An annexation request was brought before the council by Troy White, a representative of a property owner who wants a 2.25 acre piece of property annexed to the city in order to be included with a larger contiguous piece of property within the city limits. This matter also had been continued from a prior meeting in as the city was in the middle of a discussion with a local activist group on the adoption of the Urban Growth Boundary initiative. The council has sent its own version of the measure to appear on the November ballot in competition with the citizen’s group initiative. Council members noted that no members of the activist group rose in opposition to this annexation request, inferring that there was no opposition to the proposition.

 

On a motion by councilman Ed Andrisek, the council voted 3-2 (Molesworth, Andrisek, and Pointer voting for the measure with Hicks and Whitehair voting against) to allow the applicant to go forward with the request to the planning commission. Planning Director Marc Bierdzinski noted that timing would be “very tight,” as the number of reviews at the planning commission and then a return to the council would run until the voters decide on the boundary initiatives in November.

In the final action item for the evening the council voted 5-0 to approve a memorandum of understanding for funding a bus service that will connect Solvang and Buellton to Lompoc and Vandenberg Air Force Base. The program will be administered by the City of Lompoc Transit (COLT). Council members wanted a yearly review to determine if a 4-way split on costs between the three cities and the county would be equitable for the city of Buellton.