Planning Commission: Monday meeting to focus on Fagan Canyon deliberations

November 18, 2005
Santa Paula News

The Planning Commission didn’t start its meeting until 9:30 p.m. after a special joint session with the City Council ended, and the commission decided to wait until Monday to start deliberations on the proposed development in Fagan Canyon.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe Planning Commission didn’t start its meeting until 9:30 p.m. after a special joint session with the City Council ended, and the commission decided to wait until Monday to start deliberations on the proposed development in Fagan Canyon.Commissioners will meet Monday, November 21 at 5:15 p.m. at the Community Center. If commissioners do not reach a decision on the proposed project, a second meeting will be held November 22, also at the Community Center, at a time to be determined. A request by Vice Mayor Rick Cook at the council’s Tuesday meeting to film the Planning Commission meeting Monday and, if a second hearing is held, Tuesday was approved by the council. The meeting(s) will be televised live on Adelphia Cable Channel 10 and rebroadcast later.It is up to the Planning Commission, an appointed body, to decide whether or not to certify the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Centex Homes development slated for the rustic canyon that hugs the city’s northern border. The commission is also being asked to consider amending the General Plan to include more housing in Fagan Canyon, originally slated for 450 dwelling units.After almost three years, dozens of neighborhood meetings and workshops, as well as a seven-day planning charrette, Centex Homes proposed that 2,147 dwelling units, two elementary schools, a Future Farmers of America facility, parks, fire station, open space and 25 square feet of retail be built in the canyon. The plan was scaled back to about 1,900 dwelling units after the council questioned traffic impacts, among other issues related to the project, that, if approved, would be the largest in city history.Appointed by the council, the decision of the Planning Commission will be the first formal step in the process that could result in canyon development. Monday will see the start of public comment before the commission, one of the reasons cited for the continuance, and the “first thing on the agenda Monday,” said Commission Chairman Mike Sommer.
For the most part commissioners said they would hold their questions until the November 21 meeting, but Commissioner John Turturro proposed a “site visit” to an existing Sacramento County city designated as a traditional design community (TDC). TDC is the hallmark of the Fagan Canyon charrette design, and “Many of us in the community wouldn’t necessarily” know what such a development entails, noted Turturro.Commissioners opted to hear from Rick Bianchi of Centex Homes. “I want to bring into focus a few things. It’s important for the commission and the council to keep in mind” the future of the community, said Bianchi.The proposed project stemmed from a “very extensive outreach effort, which was unique and unusual.... We took a year to learn what would be good for this community.”The goals and objectives of the proposed development are consistent with city guidelines and a result of the charrette, a “joint effort. Today most people realize we tried, but there is no perfect plan” that can be embraced by all residents, in spite of extensive public involvement.Project details such as street widths, curbs and other such issues will be finalized later, but “It’s painting with a very broad brush, a roller” encompassing the project in its entirety, that would be decided by the commission, said Bianchi.Santa Paula needs an infusion of economic development, new schools, and more housing opportunities, among other improvements, and Bianchi asked the commissioners “to stay focused on some of those issues so there can be hope” and a better future for the community.Sommer recommended that commissioners consider council comments and proposed changes to the proposed project, ranging from traffic impacts to the housing mix, and the number of dwelling units to water, among other issues.



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