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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

October 8, 2003


The meeting was called to order by Chairman Price at 4:00 p.m.


Chairman Price, Commissioners LeQuire, Crane, Griffin, Savage, and Stopper

ABSENT: Commissioner Francis

STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis, Assistant Planner Sowers, Senior Civil Engineer Wallin, and Recording Secretary Bird


Commissioner Griffin


MOTION by Commissioner Crane, seconded and carried by a 5-0 vote, with Commissioner Griffin abstaining, that the Minutes of September 24, 2003, be APPROVED AS WRITTEN.




Staff report dated October 8, 2003 was presented pertaining to a request to subdivide a parcel into two lots, to separate the two existing uses, a church and a single-family dwelling, on property located at 620 S. Roosevelt Avenue and 770 W. Rosslynn Avenue.

Assistant Planner Sowers gave a background history of the property; displayed aerial photographs, a parcel map and photos of the site; and noted the proposed subdivision was consistent with the zoning and General Plan designations for the property. It was staff recommendation to approve the project subject to the conditions as outlined in the staff report.

Chairman Price referred to a memorandum dated October 8, 2003, regarding a Notice of Violation on the property, and asked that it be included as part of the record.

Commissioner Savage asked for and received clarification of where the subdivision would be on the aerial site photos.

Chairman Price questioned if the block wall would run east-west and if the hedges would remain. Assistant Planner Sowers reported that the hedges would remain; the wall would extend the length of the property in order to be consistent with the zoning code, and would vary in height from six feet to three feet within the front yard setback.

Commissioner LeQuire asked if there had been any comments received as a result of the public hearing noticing. Assistant Planner Sowers replied that there had been several complaints regarding the current condition of the property. Staff had visited the site and an inspection determined that demolition work had been performed, and temporary structures were in place without proper permits. They were issued a Notice of Violation, and currently the property owner is in the process of pulling the necessary permits.

No public comments were received specifically in support of, or in opposition to, the specific application.

Commissioner Savage referred to the drawing handed out during the meeting, and questioned if it was different than the one in the agenda packet. Assistant Planner Sowers replied it was a current revised drawing, which more clearly reflected the boundaries; direction of water flow, and clearly marked parcels A & B.

Commissioner Stopper asked what the separation distance was between the corner of the house and the proposed block wall. Assistant Planner Sowers reported it was approximately 10 feet, and met code requirements.

Public hearing opened.

Kamran Kazemi of Tala Associates, a representative for Fullerton Alliance Church, noted that Assistant Planner Sowers had already explained the project in detail, and they were basically requesting a subdivision to divide the property into two parcels.

Commissioner Stopper asked what the overall game plan for work being done on the church property was. Mr. Kazemi stated he was not specifically involved in the church portion of the project.

Jerry Caldwell, a representative of USA Tyger Industries, the general contractor that Missionary Alliance has retained, reported that the scope of work was to upgrade the church and daycare center to make it more useful and appealing to the congregation. This will include upgrades to the HVAC, electrical, lighting, and plumbing systems, installation of an assisted listening system, new flooring, new seating, replacement of some walls, and addition of accordion doors, where formally there were walls, to make the space more versatile for use in the daycare center. He noted the occupant load would stay the same for the daycare center and would be slightly less for the church, a result of changing from pews to chairs.

Commissioner Stopper asked what the schedule for completion would be. Mr. Caldwell stated that once the permits are received, they would be substantially complete within 90 days and fully functional within 120 days. He noted that, in working on this project, he has determined that the pastor and his wife desire for this project to be a benefit to the neighborhood, and he believes it would greatly enhance the livelihood of the area.

Helen Aguilar, 606 S. Jefferson, asked when the project was going to be done and how tall the wall was going to be. She stated that her house faces the church, and she was concerned how it would look upon completion, because the existing tents were not attractive. She commented that it was a beautiful parcel and would prefer it not be split. Assistant Planner Sowers noted the standard height for a block wall separating the church use from residence use was six feet, although there is an area that will start at the street and come back 20 feet that will be three feet high to keep the front yard setback clear.

Chairman Price added that once building permits are approved, it would take 90 to 120 days to complete the project. He added that the church received a Notice of Violation and must comply by October 23, 2003, by either obtaining the appropriate permits for those tents or removing them.

Marjorie Prince, lives across from the pastor's home, and was concerned that if they subdivide and then sell the house, there won't be a parsonage for a new pastor of the church.

Chairman Price asked if she was currently a member of the church and what the name was when she attended. Ms. Prince responded that her family used to be members of Alliance Missionary Church, but when they closed they had to find another church to attend. It is now called Open Door church the music is louder, and the stained glass windows and wood pews are being removed.

Matt Guentner, lead pastor of Open Door Church, stated that as a church their goal is to serve the community. They are not proposing to tear down or monopolize the neighborhood; their goal is for everyone to see that they have a heart and see the power of God throughout the neighborhood. He also noted that everyone was welcome at Open Door church and if anyone has any questions or concerns to please ask him.

Chairman Price asked Mr. Guentner if he had read the staff report and engineering letter, and if he agreed with the recommendations and conditions as outlined in the staff report. Mr. Guentner replied he had read them, and asked if the block wall could be taken from the back, by the shrubs, to just the corner of the house. He agreed with the neighbors that a block wall might be obtrusive and suggested a white picket fence from the corner of the house around the front, which would then allow his family a better view from their living room also.

Chairman Price asked staff if the code required separation by a block wall. Chief Planner Rosen answered that the code requires separating church use from residential use. A block walls is required to separate uses, but as a parsonage he did not see a problem extending the block wall to only that point.

Commissioner Savage expressed confusion of the applicant's name, Fullerton Alliance Church, noting Mr. Guentner was from the Open Door Church.

Mr. Guentner explained that originally the church was called the Fullerton Alliance Church. When asked to lead a church in this area, they legally been changed to Open Door Church, but are still under the Christian Missionary Alliance denomination.

Chairman Price asked who owned the property and if Open Door Church and Fullerton Alliance were one in the same. Mr. Guentner responded that the South Pacific District of the Christian Missionary Alliance owns the property. Chief Planner Rosen added that the Development Services records show the church as Fullerton Alliance, which may be an abbreviation of the larger group. The original application listed South Pacific District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance as the property owner.

Commissioner Crane questioned why they want the lot split. Mr. Guentner stated that when he came to the area looking to start a new church, they found this building was in great shape, but they wanted to renovate the inside and did not have the money to do so. They went to the denomination to see if was possible to subdivide the property, allow him to buy the house, and then use that money to pay for the church renovations. He noted the reasoning behind this was so that the church would be legitimate with their finances.

Marie Campbell, noted that there was a mention of a day care center and asked if that would be affiliated with the church. Mr. Guentner replied that as of right now the plans are to use it just on Sunday during church services, but in the future they might explore the possibility of a pre-school, because of the need within the city.

Chief Planner Rosen clarified that there was a Conditional Use Permit in place that allowed them to have 48 children on a daily basis, although they would need to get licensing, provide play areas, and go through the permitting process if they reestablish that use.

Mr. Alvarez asked for clarification that the real reason behind subdividing the property was the need to sell the property in order to finish the church. Mr. Guentner replied affirmatively.

Chief Planner Rosen noted that the economic rationale for a subdivision was not in the purview of this Commission. Staff was recommending approval, and any questions about use or re-use of the property and church would become important only if there was an issue with outdoor and temporary activities.

The public hearing was closed.

The public hearing was re-opened.

Peter Hasa stated that he was brought in to help with the audio/visual aspects of the project. The goal was to make it a more multi-functional building. Currently they are in a tent and there are some issues with the neighbors about noise, but once they are moved, the sound will be contained inside the building. He noted this project was being done on a shoestring budget with many people donating their time.

The public hearing was closed.

Commissioner Griffin expressed appreciation to Chief Planner Rosen for clarifying their responsibilities as Planning Commissioners. He expressed support for the subdivision with the modification of having a block wall for the back portion of the property, and a picket fence in the front. He urged the applicant and church to be aware of what was and was not allowed, and following the permit process.

The title of Resolution No. PC-03-31 RECOMMENDING approval of a request, to subdivide a parcel into two lots to separate two existing uses, a church and a single-family dwelling, on property located at 620 S. Roosevelt Avenue was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Crane, seconded and CARRIED by a 6-0 vote that the parcel that said resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED.

Chairman Price encouraged Mr. Guentner to keep in contact with the City regarding any changes in the use.



    Cindy Furch, gave an in depth update report on The Groundwater Replenishment System and handed out packets of information to each Commissioner. She reviewed where Orange County gets its water from; why this project was needed; the intricacies of the high-tech membrane water purification system; and options considered for Orange County's future water problems.

    She explained that the Groundwater Replenishment System was cost effective and reliable. It takes the water through a three-step purification process at the Sanitation District which includes micro-filtration system, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide treatment.

    A PowerPoint Presentation was given which displayed water quality comparison graphs, project map, benefits, wholesale costs, project funding, groups in support of the project, and the proposed timeline which shows the Groundwater Replenishment System on line in 2007.

    She reported the total cost is $450 million dollars for Phase I, $100 million dollars has been received in State and Federal grants; they are aggressively pursuing further funding and the remainder will be divided equally and will be a cost of approximately .74 cents per month to residents.

    Chairman Price asked how expandable the facility would be passed on to the residents in the form of bonds or public financing. Ms. Furch replied they could double the size of the treatment plant; and the cost would be put on their monthly water bill, no bonds or public financing.

    Commissioner Savage asked if there was anybody in opposition to their project. Ms. Furch replied they have not found anyone thus far.

    Commissioner Crane asked if they do tours. Ms. Furch replied the Orange County Water District was offering tours, but currently they are not because of their level of construction they are under. She noted that there will be no tours for approximately 3 to 3-1/2 years, although they do have pictures and there is a self-guided tour in administration. She noted that in 2007 they will resume their tours and they are expecting visitors from around the world.

    Commissioner Crane asked if Fullerton would receive water from the New Diamond Valley Lake that was constructed, and questioned if the cost was higher for purchasing that water. Ms. Furch replied Fullerton is a part of the Orange County Water District, the new Diamond Valley Lake is part of the imported side of the Metropolitan Water District, and they assure water supplies in the future. The purpose of the new Diamond Valley Lake was to store water closer to Los Angeles, and the cost is higher since the water is imported from the Colorado River.


    Chief Planner Rosen noted that the draft agenda for the Planning Officials forum on November 13th was distributed to the Commission. The City would cover the cost of registration, but they needed to let the Planning secretary know if they were going to attend as soon as possible. Commissioner Stopper noted that he attended last year and it is a worthwhile event.

    Chief Planner Rosen reported that the West Coyote Hills community meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 20, 2003 at 7:00 p.m. at Sunny Hills High School, and the meeting will be videotaped for rebroadcast on the City's cable channel.

    Chairman Price asked if this was simply a presentation from staff or if would include a presentation from the applicant. Chief Planner Rosen noted it was mainly staff that would provide the underlying components of the EIR, give an overview of how the EIR is put together, how a draft EIR is constructed, and they will go through hot topics that were raised at the last meeting. Staff will provide detail in each area, schedule a process for final review and the hearings. The idea is to not have formal presentations from proponents or opponents of the project at this meeting.

    Commissioner Savage questioned the difference between the lot division proposal heard tonight, and the one at the last meeting for the ice house. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin noted the difference is a lot division requires commission approval; a lot line adjustment can be approved by staff.

    Commissioner Savage asked if the project tonight could have just absorbed the property into the lot next door. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin stated they could have adjusted the lot line, but it could cause them more problems.

    Commissioner Crane asked if staff was looking into expanding the area of the downtown relative to the Commonwealth housing/retail project heard at the last meeting. Chief Planner Rosen reported they are still in discussions with the applicant and it would be being brought back to the commission.

    Chairman Price asked if procedurally the item would come up as an amendment to the General Plan. Chief Planner Rosen noted it could be both, a General Plan amendment as well as Central Business District zoning designation.

    Commissioner Stopper commented that he found he did not have a current copy of the specific plan for West Coyote Hills and asked if a copy could be made available to all of the commissioners. He also asked if his General Plan book could be updated so that he would have a current frame of reference. Chief Planner Rosen asked all of the commissioners to bring their General Plan books into the office and they will provide all of the inserts and updates for them.


    Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief report on recent City Council meetings.


    Brice Hunt, 510 Dorothy Lane expressed concern regarding the proposed maintenance and operations warehouse at the northeast corner of Lemon and Berkeley. He questioned who holds the title to the property. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin reported the title was owned by the Community College District.

    Chief Planner Rosen stated the City had not done a title search, they are relying on the County Assessors records, but added these have been inaccurate in the past.

    Mr. Hunt noted there were documents showing the high school district owned the property, and he was concerned about the possibility of deals being made between the High School District and the College District. He asked that the city look into it.

    Senior Civil Engineer Wallin stated that originally the property was high school property, but as the College District broke off and segregated there were actions of which the City was not aware. The Engineering Department kept records of lot lines, but sometimes the records were not reliable if changes had been made without the City's knowledge.

    Commissioner Crane noted he was aware that the School Board has hired attorneys to look into who owns what property.

    Chief Planner Rosen reported there were a number of things that happened over the last 50 years, and it would take time to understand the historical sites. At one point the high school and college were one entity, they are now trying to figure out who owns what.

    Commissioner Crane asked if the City had any say in this matter. Chief Planner Rosen noted there were some zoning issues that the college would undertake; the College District disagrees with the city's interpretation but has not formally responded. The College District's EIR will be be released within 30 days or so, then they need to take it to their board, certify the EIR, and at some point it will go through the City process.

    Chairman Price asked Mr. Hunt if his concern was how the City would address these issues, because at this point, the Commission is unsure of what the city's involvement will be in the process.

    Mr. Hunt stated there was an overlapping interest, they have been discussing trades and other things, and he wanted to ensure that the agencies are held accountable for their decision making.

    Chief Planner Rosen interjected that this topic was unusual for a public comment period and issues such as this, it should be agendized. He explained to the process to Mr. Hunt if he wished to pursue the matter further.

    Mr. Hunt explained that he was making a plea for help - he was representing 50 neighbors in his community who are concerned about industrial usage bordering their nice neighborhood. He asked if he could make a presentation at a future meeting.

    Chief Planner Rosen replied that there would be a public hearing to review the EIR of the College District, and it would be best to have discussion at that time. He invited Mr. Hunt back at that time to discuss his issues.

    Commissioner Crane assured Mr. Hunt that staff was working with the school districts. Mr. Hunt commented that he was concerned about non-educational usage on the property; and questioned if the city had any control over the college.

    Chairman Price explained that the Commission could not answer those questions at this time, but they appreciated Mr. Hunt's comments.


    The next meeting of the Fullerton Planning Commission will be October 22, 2003, at 4:00 p.m.


    There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 5:35 p.m.

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