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RDRC Minutes May 26, 2005

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE
REDEVELOPMENT DESIGN REVIEW COMMITTEE

COUNCIL CHAMBERS FULLERTON CITY HALL
Thursday May 26, 2005 4:00 PM

CALL TO ORDER :

The meeting was called to order at 4:07 PM by Vice Chairman Duncan

ROLL CALL :

COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Vice Chair Duncan; Committee Members Hoban and Johnson
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT: Chairman Daybell, Committee Member Coffman
PUBLIC PRESENT: Peter and Lauren Beard, Ed Gentalen, Jeff Priegel, Derek Empey, Doug Chaffee, Paul Coyne, Lisa Vaughn
STAFF PRESENT: Rosen, Eastman, Bunim, Baker

MINUTES:

The minutes from April 12, 2005 were deferred to April 28, 2005.

4:00 p.m. Session
COUNCIL CONFERENCE ROOM

NEW BUSINESS:

1. PRJ05-00278 - ZON05-00027. APPLICANT AND PROPERTY OWNER: PETER A. BEARD. A request to construct 3 additional units and a sub-grade garage to an existing 3 unit site in a redevelopment area at 217 W. Amerige Avenue (R-3 Zone) (north side of Amerige Avenue approximately between 205 and 280 feet west of the Malden Avenue centerline) (Categorically exempt under Section 15303 of the CEQA Guidelines).

Staff report dated May 26, 2005 was presented by Associate Planner Eastman. He discussed the location of the project and this request proposes an addition of three additional units and demolition of a two-car garage. He explained that the site's approved parking only consists of a two car garage fronting Amerige Avenue. The project is currently under-parked, however, the additional units will have sufficient parking. While the parking (as a whole) would not meet code, the proposed addition would. The code allows existing dwellings to remain deficient in parking, as long as the new addition complies.

Associate Planner Eastman stated that staff has reviewed this project several times. Underground parking is proposed. Staff is in support of the project because it maintains the existing c. 1912 dwelling and porch, removes the garage on Amerige which detracts from the streetscape and creates additional parking. The architectural style is consistent with the existing building and will be three stories, tiered to the back of the lot. Staff had no substantial issues with the project and recommends approval of the project with the 12 conditions listed in the staff report. Colored photos of the project were distributed.

Member Hoban asked if the garage was a complete demolition. Associate Planner Eastman stated that the front door would be removed and a portion of the walls would be demolished. The current front dwelling would be expanded and the front door is being relocated off to the front of Amerige. There will be a front porch to match the existing house and there were colored elevations available. The applicant indicated that he could design the project to preserve the garages up front. It would be a smaller unit, basically keeping the existing unit and that was staff's indication early on in the project. Staff preferred that the garage be demolished and the front of the building be made to match the existing building.

Public hearing opened.

Peter Beard, applicant, said that the parcel is a 75 foot width. He had also purchased a 50 foot wide lot adjacent to the west, and was involved in a complicated transaction with the Assistance League and the City to demolish the three units and move the Assistance League across the street. In negotiations on the adjacent property, fees would be waived to build three units on the subject property to compensate for the three units lost. The subject site used to have three units prior to his ownership: a barn-style building torn down in 1982 because it was uninhabitable. Where the new building is going to sit, there were units there in the past and he is ready to move ahead with the property and finish it off. He was in agreement with staff that the garages out front would look better with a front porch, making the streetscape look better. It would look like the four buildings were more compatible than the garages that were built in the early 1950s.

Associate Planner Eastman passed out colored elevations and site plan for review.

Peter Beard, applicant, stated that he did attempt to do a few things that he felt the RDRC would like. The original building had two garages out front, unattached. In the design of the new building four of the units will have enclosed two-car garages, which have direct access. A fifth two-car garage is provided but does not have direct access. He said that it was unique and would be a nice home for someone all the way around.

Public hearing closed.

Vice-Chairman Duncan commented that the brick did not look like it was original. Mr. Beard answered that it was not.

Member Hoban said that he was happy to see the design and felt it was a vast improvement for the site. He approved of the project with staff's recommended conditions.

Member Johnson also supported with staff's recommended conditions.

Vice-Chairman Duncan felt it would be a good addition to the area and was in full support.

MOTION by Member Johnson, seconded by Member Hoban to approve the project as submitted with staff recommendations, passed by a vote of 3 - 0.

Member Coffman arrived at 4:25 p.m.

2. PRJ05-00367 - ZON05-00038. APPLICANT AND PROPERTY OWNER JEFF PRIEGEL. A request for an addition and exterior modifications to an existing building located at 516 W. Whiting Avenue (R-1-7.2P Zone) (generally located on the south side of W. Whiting between Richman and Drake Avenues (Categorically Exempt under Section 15303 of the CEQA Guidelines

Assistant Planner Sowers presented the staff report dated May 25, 2005 and explained that this is in a preservation zone. The applicant is proposing an addition to the rear. The wainscot that is located on the front of the house will be continued and an additional gable will also be added. Staff recommended approval of the project and it is consistent with the design in the neighborhood.

Member Hoban asked if the brick detail was original or added. The applicant responded that it was original.

The applicant stated that he was trying to continue to keep the vintage look in the restoration.

Vice-Chairman Duncan asked if the new driveway met the requirements for the access to the rear. Assistant Planner Sowers and the applicant answered affirmatively.

Member Hoban asked if there were any other residences on the street that had the curved driveway. The applicant answered that there were none on his street.

Public hearing opened.

Ed Gentalen, architect for the project, reiterated that the applicant wanted to keep the existing architecture on the building.

Member Hoban referred to staff's recommendation regarding brick and stucco inlay, between the lumber. He asked if it was the intention of the design. Mr. Gentalen stated that it was a fidelity issue and they would continue the same material wherever there was brick or stucco.

Member Hoban was in support of the project, with staff's recommendations.

Member Coffman stated that he had reviewed the plans and was happy that the owner was interested in maintaining the vintage look of the home. He supported the project.

Member Hoban stated that he was in support of the project.

Vice-Chairman Duncan was also in support of the project.

MOTION by Member Johnson, seconded by Member Coffman that the RDRC approve the project, as proposed, with staff's recommendations and passed by a vote of 4 - 0.

Public hearing closed.

MINUTES:

MOTION by Member Hoban, seconded by Member Coffman that the Minutes from April 21, 2005 were approved as written by a vote of 4 - 0.

Associate Planner Eastman suggested that the RDRC move the staff/committee communication to the 4 p.m. session since one item did not meet code and was withdrawn from the agenda and the 7:00 p.m. session was going to go late.

STAFF/COMMITTEE COMMUNICATION:

Chief Planner Rosen arrived at 4:35 p.m.

Associate Planner Eastman stated that there had been a downtown transportation study update meeting on May 19th. Member Coffman talked about the representation from various committees/commissions. He said that the public stated they were pleased with the outcome of the downtown, and expressed their ideas. He discussed the desire for possible hotel developments, a greater variety in the types of stores, traffic, parking, and the tree height. Some in the community were lobbying for greater density and creating more public space.

Chief Planner Rosen asked the committee to complete a survey distributed at the May 19 meeting. Member Coffman stated that it was a thought provoking survey.

The committee discussed Sunrise and Jacaranda projects to be reviewed by the Planning Commission in June.

Adjournment: The RDRC adjourned at 4:53.

7:00 p.m. Session
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBER



The committee reconvened at 7:11 p.m.

Vice-Chairman Duncan informed the audience that Member Oscar Johnson had resigned and the 4:00 p.m. session was his last meeting. He acknowledged Oscar Johnson's seven years of service to the RDRC, and expressed his appreciation and understanding.

3. PRJ03-00363 - ZON03-00027/28. APPLICANT: THE MORGAN GROUP; PROPERTY OWNER: JACK CHOU. A request to demolish an existing tennis club and construct a senior housing complex of 131 units on a 6.1 acre site located at 1900 Camino Loma (southwest corner of Rosecrans Avenue and Camino Loma) (O-P Zone) (Mitigated Negative Declaration) (Continued from January 27, 2005 meeting).

Vice-Chairman Duncan said that this project is before them for design revisions. He described the process of committee review.

Associate Planner Eastman presented the staff report dated May 26, 2005. He explained that this is a request for a 131 unit senior apartment complex for seniors 55 and older. The Morgan Group's representative, Derek Empey, was in attendance. The approvals required for this project include a major site plan, CUP, zoning lot adjustment, and a General Plan Revision. The RDRC's purview is only regarding the design, not land use, unless the design is related to the land use.

Associate Planner Eastman reviewed the project history. He stated that the current proposal is for 131 units. The trash compactors have been eliminated and the location of trash enclosures and parking had been revised. He displayed an aerial photo, the revised site plan, colored renderings of the previous proposal for three-story units, and compared it to the new proposed two-story units. The internal courtyard was sunk to create a basement level around the recreation area. Staff had concerns with the height of the retaining walls and recommended they be reduced to a maximum of five feet in height. The applicant is concerned with making all walls five feet high, due to handicap access ramps and ADA requirements. The condition stated that the walls "should be" not "shall be" five feet in height. The Director of Development Services will have final approval on the height. It was staff's desire that the livable space not look onto an imposing wall, and the applicant wanted to address that issue too.

Associate Planner Eastman said that the retaining walls on either side of the project are not necessary and were shown due to a miscommunication between the project engineer and designer. The applicant will remove and reconstruct the existing walls, including a retaining wall. Staff was concerned with the amount of landscaping proposed in the carport area. Staff has recommended a minimum seven foot setback for all walls internal to the project, some of which are several feet off of the property line. There was a retaining wall on the east side, staff was concerned that in some locations the height was eight feet and changed with the grade. Site Section A was displayed. Staff recommended approval of the architectural design to the Planning Commission and City Council, subject to the recommendations used in the staff report.

Member Coffman asked if the clubhouse was at grade with the parking lot. Associate Planner Eastman answered affirmatively.

Member Hoban asked about the shopping center abutting the site. Associate Planner Eastman said that a wall will be provided for fill on the property and to level out the existing grade.

Public hearing opened.

Applicant, Derek Empey, Morgan Group representative, stated that this proposal was previously for a three to four-story unit combination. They have made additional revisions due to the input from the community and the RDRC. He felt it was a creative solution to the height and mass issues raised. They are not changing the configurations, they have depressed the center of the site so that it still looks like a two-story project from the street view. They are providing double the open space, and the project meets or exceeds all the setbacks. He discussed:
  • The sidewalks around the property and the pedestrian access to the shopping center;
  • The landscape theme;
  • Plant material and revised plant palette;
  • Removal of trash compactor;
  • Amount and location of trash enclosures;
  • Traffic impact and parking issues;
  • Line of sight issues;
  • Traffic count;
  • Traffic signal not warranted.
Mr. Empey felt that this project should be supported and he was in agreement with the conditions of approval.

Member Hoban asked if there would be stone work in the turnaround, would it be standard grade concrete in the walkway, and what will be used for the retaining walls. Mr. Empey answered affirmatively to the first two questions and they have not chosen the material for the retaining walls but they will have a decorative face for vines to grow.

Vice-Chairman Duncan asked about the floor plans and if their intent was to provide varying roof heights, and how was the grade to be adjusted from the stairs to the parking area. Mr. Empey stated that there is a transition that occurs on each level where the last unit of the floor slopes past that unit to a flat elevator lobby which is where you see the entrance and it continues to slope down to the next unit at ADA grades.

Mr. Empey discussed that this would be a gated community with guest parking outside the clubhouse with a call box entrance.

Vice-Chairman Duncan asked if the applicant he had reviewed the landscape percentage of the parking lot. Mr. Empey said that they are consistent with code and in conformance with the landscape requirements for the parking lot.

Doug Chaffee, spoke about:
  • Being concerned with over-development;
  • Second story windows facing abutting property;
  • Parking should not be located within a setback area;
  • Whether a variance or waiver was requested;
  • Reduction in the number of units;
  • Better amenities.
Paul Coyne, stated that the basement-level design did not eliminate the shear size and density of the project. He referred to a memo from Development Services dated 1/27/05 which stated that the applicant believed the three story height was appropriate in relation to the condos to the south. Mr. Coyne lived in those condos and basement level living was nonexistent in the surrounding community. He felt that basement levels are for parking garages only. He felt it was a disproportionate land use.

Mr. Coyne also enlisted volunteers for a six day traffic count. He spoke about 981 vehicles traveling on Rosecrans between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., and 1,186 traveling on Paseo Dorado in the same time span. The basement units are at 251 feet versus the clubhouse at 263 feet and he felt that the 12 feet difference would not provide an ideal perspective for those at the lower levels.

Lisa Vaughn, nearby resident, could not understand the traffic count. She felt this project would bring a higher volume of traffic than stated. She discussed the housing shortage, but did not want the character of Fullerton changed by high-density projects. She discussed the volume of traffic at Parks Junior High School, and encouraged staff to look at the overall impact on the infrastructure.

Public hearing closed.

Member Coffman felt that the developer had addressed the issues raised at previous meetings. He was concerned with the basement level and felt that the design of the buildings was not a good design, although he thought it was a nice design from an exterior faade view. He suggested using mature, large plantings. He did not oppose the project.

Member Hoban stated that he was not on the committee for the first two iterations. He agreed that basement living was not the best design. He felt the applicant was forcing the design on the site rather than using the site in a more effective manner. He liked the view from the street and asked that this project be returned to staff for approval and that staff bring circulation concerns to the Planning Commission and City Council. He could not support the design.

Member Coffman talked about the retaining wall height and Member Hoban agreed that if the retaining walls were lowered to three feet he would be in support.

Associate Planner Eastman discussed with the applicant lowering of the pad and there are some building code and ADA requirements. Some walls may exceed five feet. Staff was confident that the walls can be lowered and the lower height was more acceptable. The intent of the recommendation is to address the island of recreation space.

Vice-Chairman Duncan liked the revisions. He spoke of the architectural theme and lowering the retaining walls. He wanted to see significant landscaping and a creative solution to the open space. He was not opposed to the redwoods, he did not want them removed but was concerned as to how they would be planted. He commented that the feature subtropical ficus was only used once in the plans so it is not a feature tree and should be corrected. The buffer trees were shown as internal trees, he suggested that the applicant revise the pinus salderica to a canary island pine, which is found in the adjacent neighborhood. He also asked the applicant use some large scale, mature trees.

Member Coffman was not inclined to recommend denial, but wanted approval with a regulation of the retaining walls having some at five feet and the rest at three feet.

Member Hoban asked if it was staff's recommendation that the retaining walls "should be", not "shall be" revised. Associate Planner Eastman stated that "shall" is a strong word that provides direction and it could be included. Staff has discussed this with the applicant and their intent is to address this issue. He was confident that this project could move forward. Member Hoban felt it was reasonable to stipulate that the retaining walls be lower than the height of any window facing the courtyard.

Member Coffman asked Chief Planner Rosen for appropriate wording. Chief Planner Rosen suggested that the RDRC ask that the final precise grading plan return to the RDRC for approval, which will show the height of all retaining walls.

Vice-Chairman Duncan did not want to add a restriction of retaining wall height, he felt it would be appropriate to leave it up to staff to work it out to their satisfaction with the applicant.

Member Coffman was more inclined to ask for a maximum of five feet, but preferred three to four feet.

Member Hoban was comfortable with that.

Associate Planner Eastman recommended that the language be revised to that if five feet or less cannot be achieved, then the project would return to the RDRC for consideration to address the recreation area, if approved by City Council.

MOTION by Member Hoban, seconded by Member Coffman for approval of staff's recommendation with the amendment that the grading plan will return to the RDRC if a retaining wall exceeds five feet within the center of the project.

Associate Planner Eastman stated that staff will work on the language of this modification to condition #13.

OLD BUSINESS:

Chief Planner Rosen stated staff will be sending out a community meeting notice to discuss the General Plan and traffic issues.

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS:

MOTION by Member Hoban to adjourn, seconded by Member Coffman.

Meeting adjourned at 8:18 p.m.

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