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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes




The meeting was called to order by Chairman Sandoval at 4:00 p.m.
Chairman Sandoval; Commissioners Ballard, Godfrey, LeQuire, Munson, Ranii and Simons

STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Commerdinger, Program Planner Linnell, Senior Civil Engineer Wallin and Recording Clerk Stevens

MOTION by Commissioner Ballard, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that the Minutes of the November 18, 1998, meeting be APPROVED AS WRITTEN.


A request to allow a self-service gas station within the Costco Wholesale parking lot on property located at 900 South Harbor Boulevard (east side of Harbor Boulevard, approximately 100 feet south of the Orange County Flood Control Channel) (C-2 zone) (Negative Declaration). MOTION by Commissioner Godfrey, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that said item be CONTINUED until February 10, 1999.
Staff report dated December 4, 1998, was presented pertaining to a request to consider site and architectural plans for a new service station with mini-mart on property located at 2045 West Commonwealth Avenue (northeast corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Gilbert Street) (M-G zone) (Negative Declaration).

Program Planner Linnell reported that the site in question had been vacant for approximately ten years, and was formerly a gas station. He pointed out three important issues: (1) the site plan had been previously reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission; (2) the conditions are the same as previously applied, including a six-month review to assess potential traffic impacts; and (3) regardless of Commission action, there will be no construction until remedial activities are completed to the satisfaction of the Fire Department.

Commissioner Simons questioned what the applicant's course of action would be if, in six months' time, there was found to be traffic impacts associated with this use. Program Planner Linnell indicated that this had been discussed with the applicant. Because this intersection has a great deal of through traffic, left-turn movements onto the site may cause congestion and would need to be restricted. Staff would not wish to take this course of action unless absolutely necessary, and the applicant would have to accept this uncertainty as part of staff's approval.

Commissioner Godfrey asked if staff anticipated a potential traffic problem with this intersection, and would a median island or left turn lane be considered. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin stated that at the present there is not room for a median island to be constructed, so this would not be an option at this time. Chief Planner Rosen added that the applicant could improve directional flow by placing signage on site.

Commissioner Munson expressed concern over the six-month review period. He felt that if staff anticipated a problem, it should be addressed and solved before construction begins. Chief Planner Rosen answered that staff was merely placing the applicant "on notice" should unforeseen problems occur, but that this condition could be removed if that was the desire of the Commission. He added that it was difficult for staff to anticipate the market for this use, and from which direction most of the traffic would be generated.

Commissioner Ballard pointed out that the condition should remain because it would be difficult to enforce any item that was not covered in the conditions of approval. Commissioner LeQuire also felt comfortable with leaving the restriction in as part of the conditions.

Program Planner Linnell reminded the Commission that this was not a new condition, and applicant had been aware of it with the original approval and reapproval.

Commissioner Ballard also asked if this would be considered a "take out" restaurant, as opposed to a market, since food would be prepared and sold. Program Planner Linnell answered that the designation would be up to the County's health department when the permit is issued.

Commissioner Simons indicated that he had visited the site and monitored the traffic flow. He anticipated that most problems would involve traffic going southbound on Gilbert and making a left-hand turn into the facility.

Public hearing opened.

Larry Ifurung, 3912 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles, indicated that he had read and concurred with all of the recommended conditions of approval, including those in the Engineer's letter. He stated that there would be no cooking or preparation of food on site, and any food sold in the mini-mart will be pre-packaged.

Public hearing closed.

There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. Commissioner Ballard asked that Condition No. 9 be amended to read: "A review of this Conditional Use Permit will be conducted after six-month's operation to assess whether additional mitigation measures are warranted." MOTION by Commissioner Ballard, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that the Negative Declaration be CERTIFIED. The reading of the title of Resolution No. 6808 APPROVING site and architectural plans for the construction of a new service station with mini-mart on property located at 2045 West Commonwealth Avenue, was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Ballard, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED.

Staff report dated November 24, 1998, was presented pertaining to a request to establish and operate a church in the former Ice House building, and to transfer a portion of the required on-site parking to an off-site location, on property located at 112 East Walnut Avenue (south side of Walnut Avenue between 107 and 357 feet east of the southeast corner of Harbor Boulevard and Walnut Avenue) (M-G zone) (Negative Declaration).

Senior Planner Commerdinger reported that staff's concern regarding churches in industrial zones centers around (1) will the use close out a bona fide industrial use from the site; and (2) does the use impact the existing surrounding uses. Because there have been no industrial uses at this location for some time, staff does not foresee a problem with any industrial use being closed out, and the conditions of approval will mitigate any impacts relating to surrounding business. Because this site is directly adjacent, across the alley, and owned by the same property owner, staff does not anticipate a problem with parking. Senior Planner Commerdinger noted that while the parking plan is unconventional, the same plan had been successfully used at another church location within the city. He pointed out, however, that staff recommends that this church not use the street or parking spaces for the South Platform of the Transportation Center. There will be a six-month staff review of the operation to ensure that the church is not utilizing on-street or Transportation Center parking.

Chairman Sandoval noted that Condition No. 3 states that on-street and South Platform parking shall be "discouraged" and inquired whether stronger language could be used. Senior Planner Commerdinger informed her that staff would be unable to prohibit anyone from parking on a public street or parking area, but staff had made their concerns known to the applicant.

Commissioner Munson asked how many parking spaces were available in the South Platform, and Senior Planner Commerdinger answered that there were approximately 45. Commissioner Munson further inquired if staff was aware of the intensity of railroad commuters on a Sunday morning, when there is a possibility that many of the platform spaces may be utilized by church members. Senior Planner Commerdinger stated that while there is a heavy use of commuter traffic on Sunday mornings, most of it will have occurred by 8:00 a.m. and in theory most of the platform spaces will have already been taken. He emphasized that staff would be monitoring church parking during the first six months, and will monitor any complaints which may be received. If parking problems should occur, staff may request that the property owner provide parking over and above what is required by code at some of his other facilities in the area.

Chief Planner Rosen added that he had visited the train station both in the evening hours and on the weekends and Sunday morning is not the heaviest demand time for the South Platform. The operational hours for the church are on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, and staff does not see an operational conflict at this time.

Commissioner Simons inquired whether staff was convinced that the church would utilize the proposed parking plan, which includes stacked parking. Senior Planner Commerdinger reiterated that they have discussed the parking with church officials, they are aware of potential problems which may occur, and are seeking to address them at this time.

Commissioner Ballard wished to know why the condition of approval concerning off-site parking was not subordinated to by the lender, to ensure that any future uses would have access to additional parking. Senior Planner Commerdinger replied that the Commission may impose that condition, but staff felt that the present owner would stay for many years to come. Commissioner Munson also felt that the condition should be amended to reflect subordination, and staff indicated they would make that change.

Commissioner Godfrey was concerned about the configuration of the stacked parking, and the safety issues associated with that parking, and churchgoers who would be walking across the street and down an alley which is close to the railroad tracks.

Public hearing opened.

Pastor Richard Cathers, Calvary Chapel of Fullerton, gave a brief history of the church. He stated that the church is willing to abide by all the conditions of approval, and indicated that he too had visited the South Platform on a Sunday morning. He observed approximately 65 marked spaces in the South Platform lot, and another 35 spaces along the south side of Walnut Avenue. He appreciated staff's concern, but assured the Commission that the congregation would cooperate with staff. The congregation presently consists of approximately 160 adults, but that number is split between two Sunday services, and Pastor Cathers did not foresee a problem with the impact that church parking would have on surrounding uses.

Commissioner Simons asked how the church planned to monitor the parking situation on Sunday mornings. Pastor Cathers answered that the church will have ushers in the parking lot before, during, and after all services.

Commissioner LeQuire inquired if there would be Sunday school services, as well as a church service. Pastor Cathers stated that the children have their Sunday school while the adults are in a regular church service. The only persons who would attend both a Sunday school service and church service would be the Sunday school teachers.

Commissioner Godfrey questioned if the applicant had approached the property owner regarding utilizing additional properties for parking purposes. Pastor Cathers indicated that they had, but that the property owner was not receptive to the idea at this time. Chief Planner Rosen added that the property owner is proposing to develop one of the parcels on Walnut Avenue with multi-family dwellings, and would be reluctant to place any use, albeit a temporary one, on this parcel at this time.

The following church members spoke in favor of the church use:

R. J. Wilson, 1011 Richman Knoll
Javier Mercado, 512 West Gage Avenue
Craig Campbell, 215 E. Fir Street, Brea
Neal Gulassa, Fullerton resident
Margarita Ayres, 909 Rolling Hills Drive
Connie Gustades, 4691 Avenida de las Estrelles, Yorba Linda
Ken Shaffer, 5251 Meadowlark, Huntington Beach
Pamela Shurilla, 460 North Wilson, La Habra
Sherry Homan, 2301 East Brookdale Place

Public hearing closed.

Chairman Sandoval wished the record to reflect the large number of persons (approximately 40) who attended to show their support of this use.

Commissioner Godfrey asked if additional conditions could be added (i.e. shuttled parking) at a later date, because he was uncomfortable with the existing parking plan as presented. Chief Planner Rosen cautioned against adding any conditions at this time of which the property owner was unaware. Senior Planner Commerdinger stated that the condition regarding subordination of the land was one that the property owner would have to approve before the church could begin their operation. Commissioner Godfrey felt that more needed to be done concerning the parking issue before he could approve the project.

Commissioner Munson also expressed his concern with the parking plan, and with prohibiting church members from parking in designated public parking areas. He was convinced that there was a potential for major parking problems in the future, however he supported the project.

Commissioner LeQuire applauded the good works associated with a church use, but parking problems are common with such uses. He was impressed with the parking control that will occur on Sundays, and also supported the project.

Commissioner Simons was also convinced that the church would do their best to monitor the parking problems and favored the proposal.

Commissioner Ballard did not support the project. He was uncomfortable with the possibility that a Conditional Use Permit could be revoked in six months, if the parking problems were too severe to mitigate. Because parking problems are ultimately the responsibility of the property owner, not the applicant, he cited instances in the past where this particular property owner did not cooperate with conditions of approval. He reminded the Commission that the City had gone to great lengths to construct a successful Transportation Center, and did not wish to place the burden of additional parking on that site. He felt this was an incompatible use with this particular area.

Commissioner Ranii also recalled past instances where church parking had created a hardship for other uses in an industrial zone. He felt that parking was inadequate for this use, and was hesitant to approve this project, especially with future projects going into this area. He did not support the project as presented.

Chairman Sandoval supported the project as presented. While she wished to give the use a chance to succeed, she concurred with Commissioner's Ballard recommendation to subordinate the parking agreement to the lender, so it would run with the land.

There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. MOTION by Commissioner Simons, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that the Negative Declaration be CERTIFIED. The reading of the title of Resolution No. 6809 APPROVING a Conditional Use Permit to establish a church in an industrial zone and to transfer a portion of required on-site parking to off-site locations on property located at 112 East Walnut Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Simons, seconded and CARRIED by a four-to-three vote, with Commissioners Ballard, Godfrey and Ranii voting NO, said that Resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED, to add a Condition No. 6 which will require a recorded parking agreement, subordinated to by the lender.

Commissioner Ballard emphasized to those in attendance that should parking problems occur at the six-month review, the church may have their Conditional Use Permit revoked at that time.

The third in a series of workshops to update and reorganize the City's zoning code. This workshop will address proposed revisions to the Planned Residential Development Chapter of the Fullerton Zoning Code. MOTION by Commissioner Godfrey, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that said item be CONTINUED to the January 13, 1999, meeting.
Chairman Sandoval noted that this item went to the City Council on December 1, 1998, and the Orange County Transit Authority will be making its final recommendation in January.

Foster Kinney, 1017 Richman Knoll, was in the audience to discuss the future of the light rail system in Fullerton. He discussed the impact of the system on Fullerton. Senior Planner Commerdinger reported that the City has been in contact with the OCTA representatives. They are asking the City which options they wish to have reviewed, and the items on the table at this time are: will this be a two-way line, will the footprint be on Harbor or Lemon, will there be a one-way loop system, does it go across private property, is it at grade or will it be elevated? The end result is that the City wishes to have OCTA look at the two-way system, the loop system, and going through private property if the owners are supportive. All the cities in the county are also in the midst of these negotiations and workshops. The next phase includes funding to the City for hiring consultants to do the detailed land use planning, parking, circulation, and traffic impacts.

Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief report on recent City Council meetings.
There was no one present who wished to speak on any matter within the Commission's jurisdiction.
The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be January 13, 1999, at 4:00 p.m.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:50 p.m.
Becky Stevens
Clerk to the Planning Commission
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