Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE FULLERTON PLANNING COMMISSION
COUNCIL CHAMBERS - FULLERTON CITY HALL
WEDNESDAY MAY 10, 2000 4:00 P.M.
- CALL TO ORDER:
- The meeting was called to order by Chairman LeQuire at 4:03 p.m.
- ROLL CALL:
- Chairman LeQuire; Commissioners Allred, Crane, Godfrey, Munson, Sandoval and Simons
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis, Program Planner Linnell, Assistant Planner Kusch, Senior Civil Engineer Wallin and Recording Secretary Stevens
- Commissioner Crane made one correction to the minutes of April 26, 2000, meeting by changing the words "single-family" to "single-story" on page 45, first line of the first bulleted item. With that correction, MOTION by Commissioner Simons, seconded and CARRIED by a 6-0 vote, with Commissioner Godfrey abstaining, that the Minutes of the April 26, 2000, meeting be APPROVED AS AMENDED.
- ITEM NO. 1
CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT CUP-1024. APPLICANT: ALL PRO BUILDERS; PROPERTY OWNERS: JIM AND CAROL GIBSON
- Staff memorandum dated May 5, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to allow a two-story accessory building over an existing two-car garage that is detached from a single-family residence on property located at 325 North Woods Avenue (west side of Woods Avenue between approximately 200 feet and 250 feet south of Chapman Avenue) (R-1-7,000 zone) (Categorically exempt under Class 32 of CEQA Guidelines).
Chief Planner Rosen reported that the applicants wished to withdraw their application for this item.
At this point, Chairman LeQuire took Items 2 and 3 out of sequence and asked that Items 3 and 4 be heard simultaneously.
Commissioner Crane abstained from Items 3 and 4 and removed himself from the chambers.
- ITEM NO. 3
DEVELOPMENT PROJECT DP-00-2 AND CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT CUP-1021. APPLICANT: RICK CRANE ARCHITECTS; PROPERTY OWNER: HOPE UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL
- Staff report dated May 3, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to consider site and architectural plans to construct a two-story, 66,500-square-foot student athletic facility for Hope International University as part of a new Master Plan for this private school, on property located at 2500 East Nutwood Avenue (including properties along Titan Drive and East Chapman Avenue) (C-2, R-5 and O-P zones) (Negative Declaration).
- ITEM NO. 4
ABANDONMENT AB-00-2. APPLICANT: HOPE UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL; PROPERTY OWNER: CITY OF FULLERTON
- Staff report dated May 3, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to abandon approximately 800 linear feet of Titan Drive between Nutwood Avenue to College Place (Categorically exempt under Class 3b of CEQA Guidelines).
Program Planner Linnell reported that this development project is a two-story student athletic facility, which includes a gymnasium to accommodate up to 2,200 persons. The Conditional Use Permit involves the actual master plan approval itself, along with the enrollment plans, activities and classes. Staff expressed concern regarding how the university would satisfy the parking requirement for the events which have a large attendance. Because there is not sufficient parking on campus for 2,200 persons, the university will have to enter into an agreement with Cal State Fullerton to utilize additional parking across Commonwealth Avenue. One of the conditions of approval will be that a parking agreement be entered into to supply at least an additional 300 parking spaces.
An abandonment is also proposed to close off Titan Drive, extending from Nutwood Avenue to College Place. Program Planner Linnell explained that there were two different options in the abandonment request: (1) the Engineering Department would prefer to abandon the entire length of Titan Drive, but it is dependent upon approval of the Mormon Church located on the southwest corner of Nutwood and Titan; and (2) should the church not agree to abandon the entire length of the street, a partial abandonment of the southerly end of the street may be approved.
Commissioner Simons noted that page 4 of the staff report states that negotiations with Cal State Fullerton are on-going, and on page 5 the report states that the agreement is in place. Program Planner Linnell explained that the matter is under negotiation at this time.
Public hearing opened.
Leroy Fulton, Vice-President of Administration of Hope International University, confirmed that he has had numerous conversations with Mr. Barrett of Cal State Fullerton, and was assured that there would be no problem with providing the additional 300 spaces needed. Mr. Barrett had further stated that CSUF did not wish to enter into any type of a parking agreement until all project negotiations are completed. He gave a brief history of Hope International and the proposed master plan. He reported that the main reasons for the proposed abandonment of Titan Drive are safety of students and to bring the campus together. Chairman LeQuire asked if the applicant had read and concurred with the recommended conditions of approval, and Mr. Fulton responded affirmatively.
Edward Thompson, represented the Mormon Church, 2470 East Nutwood Avenue. He apologized to Mr. Fulton because of the lack of communication regarding the abandonment of Titan Drive. Because of liability and other issues, the church could not support abandoning the entire length of Titan Drive at this time. While supportive of Hope International University and its master plan, he reported that there are approximately 400 students at the church facility who share in the usage of the roads and sidewalks in this area, and would only favor partial abandonment of Titan Drive.
Public hearing closed.
Commissioner Sandoval wished confirmation on exactly what partial abandonment would be presented to the City Council for approval. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin was unclear whether the Mormon church desired to close off vehicular access only, but still allow pedestrian access. Mr. Thompson again spoke and suggested that a partial closure, starting at the beginning of Hope International University property, for approximately 300 feet, and that the public portion of Titan Drive remain as is. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin was concerned that Titan Drive drains to the south, and the public portion of Titan Drive would drain across the new "quad" of Hope University because there are no storm drains in this area. Chief Planner Rosen suggested that the Commission recommend the partial abandonment, and staff would further meet with the applicant to resolve this issue before hearing by the City Council. Commissioner Sandoval asked that if abandonment of the entire street was approved by the City Council, could Hope International enter into an agreement to allow access through a private drive with the neighboring property owner. Chief Planner Rosen answered that the street would be split 50/50 and a reciprocal access agreement is typical in these types of instances.
Chairman LeQuire asked if the street had to be split 50/50 since the Mormon Church was not in favor of full abandonment, or could the entire right-of-way be given to Hope University, along with the responsibility for it. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin explained that it is staff's opinion that if the street was abandoned, it would be split 50/50, but there was no law which denied one property from deeding its property over to the other, or having a mutually agreed upon arrangement. Mr. Fulton stated that, if total abandonment is approved, he would be in favor of a contract with the Mormon Church and that Hope University would assume the responsibility of maintaining the roadway. He could also present such a contract before the City Council meeting, if staff desired, and clarified that total abandonment would not be necessary to proceed with the project.
MOTION by Commissioner Simons, seconded and CARRIED by a 6-0 vote, with Commissioner Crane abstaining, that the Negative Declaration be CERTIFIED. The title of Resolution No. 6875 APPROVING site and architectural plans to construct a two-story, 66,500-square-foot athletic facility for Hope International University as part of a new master plan for this school on property located at 2500 East Nutwood Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Godfrey, seconded and CARRIED by a 6-0 vote, with Commissioner Crane abstaining, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN. The title of Resolution No. 6876 RECOMMENDING to the City Council the abandonment of Titan Drive between Nutwood Avenue and East College Place, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Simons, seconded and CARRIED by a 6-0 vote, with Commissioner Crane abstaining, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.
- ITEM NO. 2
CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT CUP-1023 AND VARIANCE V-1482. APPLICANT: KEN PARSONS; PROPERTY OWNERS: DR. & MRS. JOSEPH SONG
- Staff report dated May 3, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to allow the construction of a 13,994-square-foot, single-family residence with four-bedrooms, five bathrooms, exercise room, game room and outdoor tennis court; a conditional use permit to allow the residence to be 43 feet in height (exceeding the 30-foot building height limit); a modification to a previously-approved grading plan to permit extensive grading of the site to accommodate the plans as proposed which would, in part, result in crib and retaining walls up to 25 feet in height, and to permit a variance to exceed the two-story building limit by constructing a three-story residence, on property located at 1710 Vista Lomitas Place (east side of Vista Lomitas Place connecting to and south of Vista Lomitas Drive) (R-1-20,000 zone) (Negative Declaration).
Assistant Planner Kusch reported that the subject project is one of six lots approved in 1994. When the tentative map was heard by the Commission at that time, the Commission expressed concern about the number of lots proposed for the property. The application was subsequently denied by the Commission, but approved by the City Council. Prior to the Council meeting, the applicant modified their plans to lessen the amount of grading on two parcels to the south of the subject property; however staff still recommended a five-lot subdivision.
The applicant is requesting approval for a three-story, single-family residence, 43 feet in height, with 13,944 feet of building area. The total living area is 6,973 square feet. The remaining square footage includes areas for the proposed garage, accessory and deck areas, and proposed racquetball court with solarium and lap pool. The residents will gain access from the existing private street as required by the tentative map. The proposed building pad will be set back 17-1/2 feet from the terminus of the street cul-de-sac, and a crib wall up to 20 feet in height will be located adjacent to the residents along the north property line and down to the tennis court area. A 15-foot retaining wall is also proposed along this area.
In order to accommodate this request, the following issues must be addressed:
Given the history of the site, the applicant was informed early in the review process that staff would not support the application. Staff requested that the applicant convey to the property owner that staff would be recommending denial of the applications and that a redesign of the project would be prudent. Subsequently, staff contacted the property owner directly to reiterate this recommendation and to encourage a meeting with the neighboring property owners given the past controversy regarding development of this site. As of the date of this staff report, staff is not aware of any neighborhood meeting having occurred nor have revisions to the project been submitted to address these issues.
- The site will have to be extensively re-graded contrary to the subdivision approval in 1994;
- A Conditional Use Permit must be approved in order to permit the height of the residence to be 43 feet (maximum height permitted is 30 feet);
- A Variance must be approved to permit a three-story residence (maximum stories permitted is two);
- Impacts created by the proposed lighted tennis courts being in close proximity to other residences will need to be mitigated; and
- The substantial public controversy regarding the project as it is currently proposed will need to be addressed.
If regraded as proposed, the majority of the site would meet the requirements of the Fullerton Hillside Grading Ordinance, however the east elevation currently does not meet this requirement. Limited grading of the subject site continues to be a staff concern. The proposed cut and fill and 25-foot high crib wall do not meet the intent of limiting the amount of grading on the site.
Concerning the Conditional Use Permit, the Fullerton Municipal Code states that a two-story building shall not exceed a height of 30 feet above natural grade, and a one-story building shall not exceed a height of 20 feet above natural grade. In the R-1 zone, homes in excess of the limits may be approved by a conditional use permit when located on a lot with an average grade in excess of 25 percent, as the proposed home does. The proposed residence has an average building height of 43 feet, and the applicant must prove that the height of the structure shall not be unreasonably incompatible with the type of use permitted in the surrounding area and will not be injurious to the neighborhood. It is staff's opinion that the proposed residence does not meet the required finding for a Conditional Use Permit. The additional height of the residence is not compatible with the surrounding existing residences in terms of scale and bulk of the structure.
The Fullerton Municipal Code also states that a maximum of two stories are allowed in the R-1 zone, and the applicant is requesting a variance to allow a third story on the proposed residence. For the Planning Commission to grant a variance, the code states that the applicant shall satisfy four required findings as outlined in the staff report. Staff believed that allowing the third story would not meet the intent of the Fullerton Municipal Code and General Plan in terms of grading of the property and limiting the bulk and scale of residential structures. Approval of the requested variance would grant a privilege currently not enjoyed by surrounding properties.
Public notification of the Planning Commission meeting was advertised in the local newspaper and mailed to property owners within a minimum of 300 feet of the subject. Staff received four telephone calls with concerns urging denial of the project and seven letters of opposition. One letter of support was also received. Staff recommended denial of both the Conditional Use Permit and Variance requests.
Commissioner Munson wished staff to clarify the efforts made to inform the applicant that staff would not support this project. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that any applicant is informed in advance what staff's recommendation will be, and the applicant in this case was told that staff could not support the project as proposed. While the applicant understood staff's recommendation they wished to proceed with the public hearing.
Commissioner Simons asked for the definition of "three-story". Assistant Planner Kusch read the code definitions of "building height", "natural grade", "basement" and "story." Overhead projections were displayed depicting surrounding residences in the area.
Commissioner Crane noted that the staff report requires the applicant to meet the Fullerton Hillside Grading Ordinance, and suggested that a condition of approval be included to address this issue. Assistant Planner Kusch reminded the Commission that the intent of the Fullerton Hillside Grading Ordinance was to limit excessive grading, and Chief Planner Rosen read the section from said ordinance. Unless the present design is changed to meet the intent of the grading ordinance, the applicant would have to modify the grading plan.
Commissioner Godfrey inquired if the grading ordinance existed when the Skyline project was approved, because an 18-foot high retaining wall now exists on that property. Chief Planner Rosen explained that staff attempts to limit the height of these walls, where possible. Commissioner Godfrey also asked if the proposed residence would take access off of Lindendale Place. Assistant Planner Kusch said while this may have been an original intent, the existing extension of Vista Lomitas Place is proposed to be the access point for the subject site.
Public hearing opened.
Kenneth Parsons, Jeff Coffman Architects, 221 North Harbor Boulevard, Suite D, introduced Jeff Coffman to the Commission. Mr. Coffman reminded those in attendance that the configuration of lot causes the Municipal Code to treat the proposal in an unfair manner, and does not give special circumstances to those lots which are vastly different from the norm. He gave a brief description of the lot and surrounding area. Beginning at curbside, the lot begins a 2:1 descent down to a flat pad area, approximately 40 feet down. The uppermost story of the proposed home will be the sleeping quarters, the middle story is the living area and garages, and the lowest level is the exercise and recreational area. He clarified that the total square footage includes garages, decks and miscellaneous storage within the garages, and that the actual living space is approximately 7,000 square feet. He commented on the following:
Commissioner Crane asked if the applicant could achieve the grading ordinance requirements by redesign. Mr. Parsons answered that he is proposing no cut slopes anywhere within the development area that would exceed a 2:1 ratio and, therefore, would not exceed the ordinance. Commissioner Crane also asked the distance between the existing residence (northeast) and the 25-foot crib wall, and Mr. Parsons replied that this distance is approximately 75 feet. The finished elevation of this house is 400 feet, and the top of the crib wall is at 387 feet. The bottom of the crib wall is approximately at 364 feet, so the neighbor to the north would be looking down at the crib wall. The wall is also approximately 10-18 feet from the actual property lines to allow room for planting of significant landscaping to further mitigate the view of the wall.
- Dissatisfied with the work of the developer of the six-lot tract. Any grading or drainage problems should not be held against the property owners.
- This is an approved, legal lot, suitable for building. The floor area ratio for this lot is equal to or lower than almost all of the immediate residences.
- The property is accessed off of Vista Lomitas Place, not Lindendale Place.
- The height of the house, as designed, conforms to the constraints of the lot and the 2:1 slope. If the building were able to be placed further down the lot, the lowest level could be classified as a basement, and eliminate the three-story concern. The only way to support a two-story home on this lot would be with stilts and solid stucco skirt walls, which would not be aesthetically pleasing to the surrounding residents.
- Even though the property owners knew at the outset that staff would not recommend approval of the project, they wished an opportunity to present a redesigned project to the Commission.
- The retaining walls will be crib walls and heavily landscaped to blend in with the scenery.
Commissioner Godfrey noticed that a portion of the lot would be cut to anchor the house and then filled on the other side. Mr. Parsons concurred and pointed out the cut and fill locations on the vicinity sketch. The foundation would be not only footings, but caissons, pilings, etc. to enable it to rest on fill material. The drainage pattern enters a culvert and any surface drainage on this lot would not contribute to street flow on any of the surrounding streets.
Commissioner Simons asked if any cut and fill would be needed for the tennis court, and Mr. Parsons stated that it would be on an actual pad, but there is a portion that would be extended, and a 15-foot high retaining wall would be constructed at this point, and would be 45 feet from the front of the closest adjacent home.
The following persons spoke in opposition to the project:
Philip Seastrom, 1713 North Acacia Avenue
John Dymond, 1619 North Acacia Avenue
Ed Nance, 1408 Vista del Mar Drive
David Reid, 1707 North Acacia Avenue
Bob Roethe, 1747 North Acacia Avenue
Robert Gentz, 1809 Vista Lomitas Drive The points of opposition were:
- The 15-foot high retaining wall is too close to the adjoining property owner who will have to view it.
- The same restrictions and standards that surrounding residents had to follow in building their homes should apply to the proposed project, i.e. height of the home.
- There are no other three-story homes in the neighborhood, nor any which have as much square footage of living area.
- Neighbors fear drainage problems because of the amount of grading necessary.
- The 25-foot retaining wall is too massive and unprecedented.
- The parcel was originally zoned for four parcels, and the six lots approved by the City Council are too many.
- The property owner should be required to utilize the existing pad, even though the City approved the lot, but did not approve access to that lot.
- If approved, an environmental impact report should be required.
- Under Government Code section 65906, it would be illegal to approve this project.
The following persons spoke in favor of the project:
Ralph Baker, 1832 West Commonwealth Avenue, because government should not interfere with the way a person develops his own property.
Commissioner Sandoval asked that the letters from John and Carolyn Dymond and Arif and Debbie Mansuri be entered into the public record.
Chairman LeQuire allowed the applicant time to speak again to address the matters brought up by the residents.
Jeff Coffman stated that once the grading is accomplished, if an average measurement was taken from the finished grade, the house would comply with the average 30-foot grade, with the exception of the rotunda area.
Ken Parsons thanked the surrounding residents, who took the time to come to the Planning Commission meeting and voice their concerns. It is the applicant's desire to build a structure that serves the needs and desires of the property owners, and could still be something that will blend in with the neighborhood.
Public hearing closed.
Commissioner Munson recognized the uniqueness of the situation, and appreciated the concerns of the neighbors, who were required to follow certain criteria and guidelines when building their own homes. He expressed concern about the grading and the size of the home for the area. He felt that the staff report was thorough and concurred with the recommendation to deny the request.
Commissioner Simons shared Commissioner Munson's concerns and was reminded of another tract with a large crib wall and which ultimately resulted in a lawsuit by the homeowners. He supported staff's recommendation for denial.
Commissioner Godfrey stated that presently homes exist along Skyline Drive which required extensive amounts of grading. He believed that the proposed home would be an asset to the area, because, although large, it would be terraced and have a softer appearance. He supported the project as presented.
Commissioner Sandoval did not support the project because the home is too massive. She did not feel that the project included any feature which was unique enough to warrant a variance. She reminded those in attendance that the Planning Commission had originally not approved the six-lot subdivision and that the matter was approved by the City Council.
Commissioner Crane complimented staff on the staff report, facts and findings. His concerns included the crib wall height, grading issues and he also could not justify a variance. He also supported staff's recommendation for denial.
Commissioner Allred said that she feels that property owners should be able to develop their property as they desire. However, she could not support the project because of grading and drainage issues, as well as the height of the retaining walls.
Chairman LeQuire thanked the residents for attending the Planning Commission meeting, and felt the architect did an excellent job of designing the house. He felt that while the house was not too massive for the area, it was out of scale for the grade of the lot. Because of the cut and fill, grading, and crib wall issues, he did not support the project.
There was a consensus of the Commission to deny the project. The title of Resolution No. 6874 DENYING the construction of a 13,994-square-foot, single-family residence with four bedrooms, five bathrooms, exercise room, game room and outdoor tennis court, a Conditional Use Permit to allow the residence to be 43 feet in height, a modification to a previously-approved grading plan to permit extensive grading of the site, and a Variance to exceed the two-story height limit on property located at 1710 Vista Lomitas Place, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Sandoval, seconded and CARRIED by a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Godfrey voting no, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.
- ITEM NO. 5
SITE PLAN SP-789. APPLICANT: CARD INVESTMENTS, INC.; PROPERTY OWNER: DAVID TERMEFOROOSH.
- Staff report dated April 10, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to consider site and architectural plans for a proposed 2,400-square-foot, drive-through restaurant with an indoor playground on property located at 2751 West Orangethorpe Avenue (northeast corner of Magnolia and Orangethorpe Avenues) (C-H zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15332 of CEQA Guidelines).
Chief Planner Rosen reported that the applicant desired a continuance of this matter. MOTION by Commissioner Sandoval, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that said item be CONTINUED until the May 24, 2000, Planning Commission meeting.
- ITEM NO. 6
AMENDMENT A-1463. APPLICANT: CITY OF FULLERTON
- Staff report dated May 3, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to consider amending Title 15 of the Fullerton Municipal Code to add Chapter 15.58 entitled "Special Events on Private Property" and to eliminate a corresponding section in Chapter 15.30.
Program Planner Linnell reported that this amendment was proposed to transfer the responsibility of reviewing these events from the Police Department to the Development Services Department. In those cases where an event involves a "for-profit" commercial venture and impacts surrounding properties, the matter may also appear before the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Sandoval noted that in the body of the new text, page 3, Item 11, it states as follows: "a host liquor liability insurance policy in an amount satisfactory to the Director of Engineering.." Program Planner Linnell indicated that this was an error, and should read "Director of Development Services". He further explained that the Director of Engineering will review special events on public property and the Director of Development Services will review those on private property. Staff will make the appropriate change to the final document presented to City Council. Commissioner Sandoval also inquired if Item C which states: "A permit for a special event proposed on all other types of private property shall not be issued without a review and approval of the application by the Planning Commission", would require an additional fee to the applicant. Program Planner Linnell reported that it was not staff's intention that the applicant should pay an additional fee for this review, but that the review would be advertised as a public hearing. When an event is on public property, depending on which public property is involved, such as parking lots, the Director of Engineering may unilaterally review the request and make a decision.
There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. The title of Resolution No. 6878 RECOMMENDING to the City Council amending Title 15 of the Fullerton Municipal Code by adding Chapter 15.58 entitled "Special Events on Private Property" and to eliminate a corresponding Section in Chapter 15.30, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Crane, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.
- ITEM NO. 7
ZONING CODE UPDATE
- Program Planner Linnell reported that these were the last chapters of the Zoning Code update process: Purpose and Title; Definitions; and Zones.
Commissioner Simons questioned where "auto repair" was located in this chapter. Program Planner Linnell answered that there is a section in the Zoning Ordinance under "Commercial Uses", but there did not appear to be one in the Definition section. Staff will make an effort to include such a definition in this chapter.
Commissioner Sandoval referenced the "Domestic Animals" section which included "dogs, cats, rabbits, pot-bellied pigs, miniature horses, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles." It was her opinion that "mammals" and "reptiles" were too vague and should be more specific.
- REVIEW OF COUNCIL ACTIONS
- Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief report on recent City Council meetings.
- PUBLIC COMMENTS
- Ralph Baker, a Fullerton resident, stated that he would be running for City Council this year. He noted that the Planning Commission agenda did not state that the meetings are held in the Council Chambers. He also invited the Commission members to a Citizens for a Sound Economy meeting at the Fullerton Marriott Hotel, June 1, 2000, at 7:00 p.m.
Chairman LeQuire asked if any Commission member was interested in applying for the OCTA Citizens Advisory Committee, he had an application for their use.
- AGENDA FORECAST
- The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be May 24, 2000, at 4:00 p.m.
- There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:23 p.m.
Clerk to the Planning Commission