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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

January 22, 2003


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


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

STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis, Associate Planner Eastman, Senior Engineer Wallin, and Recording Secretary Bird


MOTION by Commissioner Crane, seconded and CARRIED by a 7-0 vote, that the Minutes of the January 8, 2003, meeting be APPROVED AS WRITTEN.




Staff report dated January 22, 2003, was presented pertaining to a request for a Development Project, including a faade remodel of an existing shopping center and the addition of 50,500 square feet of building area, including retail shell structures and a restaurant; and a Conditional Use Permit to allow the addition to exceed the maximum permitted FAR of .035, and to allow for shared parking, on property located at 140 Orangefair Mall (bounded by Harbor Boulevard, Lemon Street, Orangethorpe Avenue and Orangefair Avenue) (C-2 zone) (Negative Declaration). Notification and zoning maps were displayed, as well as photos of the existing site.

Associate Planner Eastman reported that the proposed project would be done in two phases. Phase 1 is the renovation of the Harbor Boulevard and Orangethorpe Avenue faades. Phase 2 includes the renovation of the faades on Lemon Street and Orangefair Avenue, reorientation and restriping of the rear parking lot, and the addition of 50,500 sq. ft. in four different tenant areas. The applicant submitted two sets of site plans because a variety of factors will shape the direction of the project and illustrations were displayed showing both Site Plan "A" and Site Plan "B". The applicant prefers Site Plan "B" which includes a cut-through drive access through the middle of the shopping center. The proposed project requires a Conditional Use Permit to exceed the maximum permitted base Floor Area Ratio of 0.35, and a reduction of the required spaces of parking.

Associate Planner Eastman reported that the Redevelopment Design Review Committee (RDRC) reviewed the project and recommended approval subject to staff's recommended conditions.

Commissioner Crane asked for more information on the Traffic Analysis Zone (TAZ) reserve of 84,833 square feet, noting if approved this would leave only 34,000 more square feet in the TAZ. Associate Planner Eastman referred to the zoning map, noting the TAZ area is only the Marketplace and the area south of it, which are both developed sites.

Chief Planner Rosen noted that he was involved with the development of the General Plan in 1994, and those were best guess estimates of development potential in each of the transportation zones in the City at that time. The General Plan and traffic analysis were modeled based upon those assumptions, and at some time the City could hit those reserves. At that point, the City could update the whole General Plan or, if a cap is hit in an area, the developer could be required to do a separate traffic study to prove the project would have no impacts on the surrounding intersections. He stated at this time the City was in the process of updating the traffic portion of the City's General Plan.

Commissioner Crane referred to the parking charts, and noted a 30% parking deficiency relative to the code requirement of the Town Center. He questioned if staff was comfortable with the recommendations and asked where overflow parking would occur if needed. Associate Planner Eastman noted there were unique differences between the two centers. The Town Center has the movie theaters; whereas the Orangefair shopping center has office space, which typically is not used at night or on the weekends when the retail needs more spaces. Chief Planner Rosen noted that the parking problem would have to be contained on site, and staff was comfortable with the number of spaces being provided.

Commissioner Francis felt that the Metro Center was a very successful center, managed correctly with good tenants, and next door was Orangefair Marketplace, that was failing, and questioned why they wanted to expand. Associate Planner Eastman clarified that the current state of the adjacent property was created by another property owner. Chief Planner Rosen stated that it would be better for the applicant to respond to this economics question and about what their vision is of the site. He clarified that the issue before the Commission was whether the applicant's proposal met the zoning requirements, to deal with parking and FAR issues, and review the architecture of the expansion. Whether the economics supported the expansion, or the remodel of the facility, was a choice of the property owner and not an issue in front of the Commission.

Commissioner Savage asked for the major differences between Site Plan A and Site Plan B. He asked which site plan would make it easier for people to circulate within the complex, and if there would be an impact on traffic around the complex. Associate Planner Eastman noted that the applicant made a proposal with two plans; Site Plan B was the alternative plan that they would prefer. He noted there were a number of economic factors that the applicant could speak to that would determine the feasibility of that site plan. He noted that Site Plan B provided for added circulation through the center; staff did not perceive it to have an impact, and the cut through will not likely make a convenient short cut around off-site traffic signals.

Senior Engineer Wallin felt a significant impact would only be an issue if the existing center became more successful, and the cut through was more of an internal circulation to aid the businesses.

Commissioner LeQuire asked about the potential for any use of the basement areas. Chief Planner Rosen believed it was cost prohibitive to correct all of the code requirements to gain access to the basement for anything other than storage.

Commissioner Stopper asked for clarification of restriping the southeastern parking lot. Associate Planner Eastman noted that currently the parking and drive aisles are north/south and the proposal is to have them running east/west.

Commissioner Stopper referred to page 7, item 12 of the staff report, questioning if there was concern that a water line was under some of the buildings; if an 8-inch water main is needed, and where would the 8-inch water main come off. Senior Engineer Wallin noted that currently there are water lines in between the buildings and underneath some of them; the condition is that if the faade upgrade moves forward, then Water Engineering is looking to take care of some of the problems. If the developer goes forward with the additional 50,500 square feet, then a new loop line and fire services will be needed for those buildings. It was noted that currently the water line is in undesirable location and the City is looking to have it moved.

Commissioner Griffin asked for clarification that Condition 2, the final site plan review would be by the Director of Development Services and the A or B scenario is decided at that level or who would make the decision. Associate Planner Eastman noted that the final site plan is to make sure the project meets development standards, and what is submitted is consistent with what is approved by the Planning Commission. The applicant makes the decision, as it is primarily based on economics of the center.

Public hearing was opened.

Rick Margolis, representing the applicant, Columbus Pacific Properties, informed the Commission that they purchased the property during the first quarter of last year. He understood that Plan B was preferred by staff, but it is much more costly and requires cooperation from existing tenants. He explained some of the options they are looking into with regards to relocation of tenants and what changes would have to take place. Their main competition at this time is the Lowe's shopping center, which attracts new tenants by visibility and access from the 91 Freeway. They are trying to give visibility and access from Orangethorpe and Harbor. Addressing Commissioner Francis' concern about the shopping center being one third vacant, he noted that this was a 400,000 sq. ft. shopping center and currently they have only 20,000 sq. ft vacant., excluding the 145,000 sq. ft. of vacant basement space.

Chairman Price asked Mr. Margolis if he was in agreement with the recommended conditions by staff, and Mr. Margolis answered affirmatively.

Commissioner Griffin asked if the applicant had a business plan, and how long would they wait before deciding between Site Plan A or B. Mr. Margolis advised they are currently soliciting larger tenants for the rear spaces; currently talking with Factory 2 U about relocating; marketing and discussing with small tenants to take up the plaza courtyard area. They are hopeful that it will be done by the first quarter of next year. He explained that when the previous owner signed a lease, Burlington Coat Factory was given complete control of the backside of the shopping center, and nothing can be done without Burlington Coat Factory's signed approval.

Commissioner Francis felt the center needed attention and asked the applicant how he planned to turn it around and make it successful. Mr. Margolis noted that the profit from the extra square footage on the back of the center would pay for the remodel of the shopping center. Sales prices of commercial real estate is based on capped rates and cash flows, not on aesthetics; the rents are there and the predominant leases are there. Mr. Margolis stated that they desired to attract customers to this center, as opposed to the Lowe's center.

Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Savage voiced his support for the project and noted he preferred Site Plan B.

Commissioner LeQuire supported the project, and stated he preferred Site Plan A; he felt Plan B would bring a short cut and cause more traffic.

Commissioner Crane noted the improvement to this center will be positive and he was in support of the project.

Commissioner Stopper felt it was a positive plan to develop the center and make improvements and he was in support of the project.

Commissioner Griffin echoed the sentiments of his fellow commissioners and supported the project.

Commissioner Francis showed support for the project, adding that the center is one of the best locations in town and there is a lot of potential for the site.

There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. The title of Resolution No. PC-03-05 CERTIFYING the Negative Declaration and APPROVING a development project, including a faade remodel of an existing shopping center, the addition of 50,500 square feet of building area, to allow the addition to exceed the maximum permitted Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 0.35 and allow for shared parking on property located at 140 Orangefair Mall was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner LeQuire, seconded and CARRIED unanimously, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.



    Virginia Kirk, Meredith Manor noted a problem with traffic on Pomona, south of Orangefair Avenue. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin gave her his business card and asked her to call him and he would explain the procedure for trying to get a signal installed on Pomona.

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


    The next meeting of the Fullerton Planning Commission will be on February 12, 2003, at 4:00 p.m.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:36 p.m.

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