Controversial Keats Corner scaled back at request of City Council

April 18, 2007
Santa Paula News

The controversial Keats Corner apartment complex was conceptually approved by the City Council after the project that could impact the sight lines of the historic Ebell Club was scaled back.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe controversial Keats Corner apartment complex was conceptually approved by the City Council after the project that could impact the sight lines of the historic Ebell Club was scaled back.The Council agreed to consider a revised plan for six units at the April 5 meeting.The issue has been a matter of discussion for years...Keats Corner would be located behind 720 E. Main Street and accessible from Yale Street.Angela Dominguez told the Council that the proposed eight-unit complex “is too close” to the Ebell Club, which is on the National Register of Historical Buildings.In addition, Dominguez, who was representing the Santa Paula Historical Society, noted that guidelines are in place to protect Santa Paula’s historic structures.Now home to the Santa Paula Theater Center, Dominguez also cited potential noise impacts and hazards and the need for more rental units in the city.Bob Orlando told the Council that he lives in a historical home and appreciates the concern over the Ebell Club but as a SPTC season ticket-holder he did not believe that Keats Corner would present serious impacts.But, “I also have a concern for quality developments” which Orlando said he believes is represented by Keats Corner.
Others presented their opinions for and against the proposed development including Jill Dolan representing the SPTC Board of Directors who, Dolan said, do not oppose the project but believe it is too large.“Our concern with the size, the scope and the proximity to our building” must be considered.Referring to a rendering of the project as proposed Dolan noted that Keats Corner “looms over us and will be the focus of attention, not the Ebell Club. “I would encourage the Council to send this back to the drawing board and come back with a better plan for that site.”“...does it fit in? Yes it does,” said Dr. Dewayne Jones who described the mixed-use neighborhood.After some Council discussion City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz noted that “issues of the historic nature were not emphasized” until the project was near the end of the hearing process, the basis of the city’s now recommended denial.Representatives of the proposed developers objected to changes noting that the project had mustered Planning and Design commissions’ review and escalating costs of the project.Ultimately Councilman Bob Gonzales suggested that the developer scale back the project to six units and Mayor Ray Luna suggested that they make a $10,000 donation to the theater center’s fire sprinkler fund.“What happens with a project is that sometimes you have some with lots of community support while others have lots of opposition,” Bobkiewicz said later. “This project fell somewhere in the middle...the challenge is then you have to find middle ground to push it over” the line of approval.Although “clearly there are mixed-uses all around at the same time the Council was concerned about impacts on the Ebell Club. I think Councilman Gonzales did a great job of throwing compromises against the wall...projects are easy when everyone is in favor of it or against it. The Council showed leadership in this issue,” by reaching a “compromise that worked for everybody.”



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