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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
WEDNESDAY JUNE 22, 2005 7:00 P.M.
CALL TO ORDER: The meeting was called to order by Chairman Griffin at 7:00 p.m.
PRESENT: Chairman Griffin; Commissioners Bailey, Cowen, Francis and Savage
ABSENT: Commissioners Hart, Stopper
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis, Senior Civil Engineer Voronel, Assistant Planner Sowers and Recording Secretary Baker
FLAG SALUTE: Chairman Griffin
MINUTES: Chairman Griffin asked that the word "religious" be removed on page 101.

MOTION by Commissioner Cowen, seconded by Commissioner Savage, and CARRIED by a 4 - 0 vote, with Commissioners Bailey and Francis abstaining, that the Minutes of June 8, 2005 be APPROVED AS AMENDED


Rebecca Long of the Orange County Water District, in partnership with the Orange County Sanitation District, gave a presentation on a new innovative Groundwater Replenishment System.

Chairman Griffin mentioned that he had participated in the one-day tour last year.

Commissioner Savage asked what the estimated annual cost was to maintain the system; the total cost of the system; and what the life expectancy was for the system.

Ms. Long answered that the cost was $487 million; she did not know the annual cost to maintain the system, but offered to research that information and respond with an answer. It is expected to grow to 70 million gallons of water per day. Because of the reverse osmosis and microfiltration, it makes the system self-cleaning, therefore, causing a longer life. She stated that the expected life was endless.



A request for a Conditional Use Permit to operate a bar use - Type 48 ABC License (On-Sale General - Public Premise) at an establishment currently operating as a restaurant with a full liquor license - Type 47 ABC License (On-Sale General - Eating Place) on property located at 1189 East Ash Avenue (north side of Ash Avenue between approximately 50 and 110 feet west of Raymond Avenue) (C-M zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15301 of CEQA Guidelines)
q MOTION by Commissioner Savage to continue to a date uncertain, seconded by Commissioner Bailey and passed unanimously by all voting members present by a vote of 5 - 0.


Staff report, dated June 22, 2005, was presented pertaining to a request to modify an existing Conditional Use Permit (CUP-421A) by adding a two-story building for administrative offices and classrooms on property located at 1600 North Acacia Avenue (east side of Acacia Avenue, between 492 and 796 feet north of Dana Place) (R-1-20 zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15301 of CEQA Guidelines)

Assistant Planner Sowers reported that Temple Beth Tikvah was proposing to add an additional building, replacing a portable building in use since 1971.

An aerial photo was displayed and staff identified the proposed and existing buildings. Staff presented a site plan and elevations and discussed the setbacks and building height. The concurrent weekday uses are the pre-school and the religious school. There also are concurrent hours for Saturday services and the religious school. The maximum impact on parking would be on Saturday. The time schedules of uses and maximum parking requirements were displayed. Conditions of approval would require operations to be limited to those stated by the applicant with an intention not to expand their use of the facility. The applicant would need to return to the Planning Commission with an approved off-site parking agreement to accommodate overflow parking should the need arise.

Assistant Planner Sowers stated that the code requires that a six-foot high solid masonry wall be installed on the property line abutting the residential properties to the north and south. Staff also recommended that an arborist review the mature trees on site that could be impacted by this project, and make a recommendation for retention and include a landscape plan for this area.

Staff recommended that a parapet be used to screen any rooftop-mounted equipment and, as conditioned, staff finds that the expansion was appropriate in relation to its surroundings, would not have a negative impact to the surrounding area, and would not be materially detrimental.

Staff also recommended approval with the conditions listed. Staff received several inquiries, one being a letter received from Mr. and Mrs. Hartnett, residents at 1731 Ladera Vista Drive, which was forwarded to the Planning Commission. The residents were concerned with generally keeping the appearance of the religious use consistent with the nature of the surrounding residential area.

Commissioner Cowen asked if the condition stating the need for an arborist and a landscape plan would address the Hartnett's concerns. Assistant Planner Sowers stated that the intent of the condition was to focus on the trees immediately adjacent to the proposed building. The Planning Commission could expand the condition to address additional landscaping throughout the property. She displayed the aerial photo of the grove of trees that staff suggested to be reviewed by the arborist.

Chairman Griffin asked that the letter dated June 21, from Patrick and Robin Hartnett, be made a part of the public record.

Applicant Greg Weitzman, Co-Executive Vice President for Temple Beth Tikvah, explained that the temple was celebrating 40 years of service to the North Orange County Jewish community. The facility is 35 years old and there was a need for a new school building. He felt that new families would be best served with newer facilities, and they desired to build their membership back up to 350 families, similar to 10 years ago.

Pat Hartnett identified himself as the resident who sent the letter to the Commission and welcomed the Temple's expansion. He apologized for the length of his construction project, which was nearing completion. He asked for specific conditions in the CUP to address maintenance, planting of the slope to be consistent with the natural habitat, and the planting of trees to preserve the residential nature consistent with the zoning of their area. He felt that the buildings had a commercial look for a residential neighborhood. He asked that the existing building to remain be better camouflaged facing the canyon. He stated that he was required to plant substantial natural habitat with indigenous plantings and fire retardant plantings on the slope area. He told the Planning Commission that he had planted 60 trees on his property.

Chairman Griffin asked Mr. Hartnett to specify where on the photo he was required to plant and what specific conditions he proposed to be added. Mr. Hartnett showed on the photo that they planted from below the gunite drainage ditch up the slope. He suggested something similar to what he had planted in the beltway. Mrs. Hartnett described the types of trees planted at the sport court below the two houses that they are building.

Commissioner Francis asked Mrs. Hartnett to explain what changes they made to their property. She stated that the parcel was sub-divided and they are in the process of building two houses.

Commissioner Savage referred to Exhibit A and asked the Hartnetts where they were standing when the photo was taken. The Hartnett's identified on the photo the location. They also stated that they could see all the mechanical equipment on the roof of the existing building to remain. Staff explained that code only requires a parapet wall when it is in view from the street.

Commissioner Savage asked the Hartnett's if they were more satisfied with the eastern exposure than with the northern exposure. Mrs. Hartnett stated that the eastern exposure had more trees to screen the building and was more satisfactory. They answered that they had not noticed the sanctuary until trees were removed five years ago.

Ernest Milligan, 1530 N. Acacia, has resided at this location for 25 years. He has had little difficulty or contact with the temple, or any difficulty with the activities or functions they have held. Since 1980, he noticed that the membership had reduced, but was increasing again. He asked if another temple or church shared the facility. He was concerned with the direct view of his property from the temple property. He complained of older children who had thrown rocks into his pool and large unrelated groups that have been permitted to use the facility and have become a disturbance. He mentioned activities increasing on weekdays and weekends. Mr. Milligan was concerned that the classrooms would be increased to 11, which was a significant increase. He asked that additional language be included to require screening to his property. He asked that the area where the temple had previously planted oleander trees, which have subsequently died, to be replanted for screening. He also asked for additional screening in the upper parking lot, thus reducing the view line into his backyard from the temple property. He was hopeful that there would not be a significant increase in vehicles, and asked what the construction time line was. He stated that the first notification of construction was from the public notice.

Commissioner Savage asked if Mr. Milligan was aware that one of the conditions was a six-foot wall along the south property line. Mr. Milligan did not have any information on staff's proposal, and staff provided him with a staff report. He asked where the measurement began, because the lower parking slopes considerably.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that the standard separation in a residential area is a six-foot wall.

John Diamond has lived across the street for 28 years. He spoke to the following items:
  • Commercial design
  • Compatibility with the neighborhood
  • Dead trees that have not been replaced
  • Building height
  • Lighting
  • Construction timeline
  • Parking
  • Setback of the building from Acacia
  • Expansion of membership
  • Subsequent meetings
  • Meeting with the temple staff
Commissioner Francis reminded the audience that the Planning Commission decision can be appealed or, if the Planning Commission continued the item to another meeting, there would be more debate.

Chairman Griffin asked since there are additional classrooms proposed, does the temple intend to have significantly more students and more uses, or just enhanced facilities.

Miriam Van Roth, Temple Administrator and Director of Education, explained that they have classes for Pre-Kindergarten through 10th grade on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday. They want to separate the currently combined classes and provide concurrent parent classes. The plan is for additional programming for the parents waiting for children in classes.

Chairman Griffin asked Assistant Planner Sowers if there was a condition establishing the days and times allowed for property use. Assistant Planner Sowers answered that Condition #2 stated that the project would conform to the plans and statements of the applicant, and to the schedule of events and the numbers provided in Attachment #2 of the staff report.

Chairman Griffin asked the applicant if they had rented their facility to other organizations. Greg Weitzman answered that they rent their facility to the Unitarian Church for Sunday services. The incident mentioned by Mr. Milligan was another outside use that the temple was not pleased with, and will not be renting to again.

Chairman Griffin asked if there were any restrictions in the CUP that precluded them from subletting for other activities. Chief Planner Rosen answered that there were no restrictions.

Architect John Summers, GoSum Architects, discussed the sketches and drawings. He said that the maximum height of the building on the west elevation is 15 feet, because of the curve of the roof. The floor of the classrooms are three feet lower than the curb height at Acacia.

Commissioner Savage asked the architect to show where the current height of the building was on the west elevation. Mr. Summers responded that it was a portable building which stood on a pier and support system, and he did not have the measurement with him but estimated the height against the proposal.

Stan Golden, another architect working on the project, responded to the Hartnett's concern of screening the air conditioning unit. He stated that the height of the roof masks a well within the roof of the building area where the air conditioning was located. It served as an energy conservation media and a screen for the air conditioning. He estimated a nine-month construction timeline, subject to the weather conditions.

Chairman Griffin asked what the setback was from Acacia Avenue. Mr. Golden said that the proposed building is approximately 15 feet closer to Acacia than the existing building to be demolished.

Chairman Griffin asked for the dimension of the new proposed setback from Acacia. Assistant Planner Sowers stated that 10 feet was the proposed setback from the adjacent property to the north, which is the side-yard setback; 146 feet is the setback from Acacia.

Chairman Griffin asked staff if there was a condition regarding parking lot lighting. Assistant Planner Sowers answered that Condition #10 required any such lights to be directed away from adjoining residential properties. Staff was not recommending requiring additional lighting, however the applicant could add lights if desired. Exterior lighting would be included in the final building plans reviewed by staff to ensure compliance with the condition.

Commissioner Savage asked the applicant if they wanted to address any concerns expressed by the residents. Mr. Weitzman stated that the plans were done with the best of intentions, and he had regrets that the temple had not met with the surrounding residents; he felt they could have been more thoughtful of their neighbors.

Commissioner Bailey referred to the pictures attached to the Hartnett's letter and asked Mr. Weitzman if he was against planting the area identified, because the back of the applicant's property looked scarce and needed weed abatement.

Mr. Weitzman felt it was a reasonable request, and because of the picture he had another perspective on the temple as viewed from the surrounding properties. He was not against it, in principle, but it would be an expensive project. They are beginning a fundraising program and would find the least expensive way to plant. He said they will do whatever is required of them.

Chairman Griffin asked Assistant Planner Sowers for a description of the conditions of approval relating to the southernmost lower parking lot, adjacent to Mr. Milligan's property. He asked if planting was required along the property line.

Assistant Planner Sowers said that the condition was written to bring the applicant's property into compliance with the code requirement that a religious or school use be separated from abutting residential properties by a solid, six-foot-high masonry wall. Staff was recommending that the six- foot-high wall would run along the applicant's southern property line. It would either be terminated, or drop to three feet in height in the front yard setback area. Staff did not include planting requirements, but it could be included at the Planning Commission's request.

Commissioner Cowen asked about Condition #4. Assistant Planner Sowers displayed on the site plan where the block wall would be, and indicating the affected property lines - the north property line of the property to the south, and the south and east property lines of the property to the north.

Commissioner Savage asked about plantings on the wall adjacent to the southern property line to provide screening from the proposed classroom. Assistant Planner Sowers explained that it depended on the height of the planting, because the slope rises traveling north on Acacia, resulting in a height difference in the upper parking lot.

Public hearing closed.

Chairman Griffin asked the Planning Commission to consider Commissioner Bailey's suggestion for additional planting on the slope below the applicant's property.

Commissioner Savage recognized that there were difficulties with screening the eastern exposure of the building. He was amenable to requiring planting of some trees, and was impressed with the applicant's willingness to work with the residents. He felt it looked like a school and expected to see it in a residential area. He was very supportive of the project.

Commissioner Bailey said that his only concerns were the block wall and screening from the front of the property. He felt the elevation was fine, but the back slope should be improved. He was in support of the block wall along the south and north property line, softened by plantings. He also mentioned to the neighbors in attendance that Condition #20 states that if more than three complaints are received within a 12-month period, it would be grounds for a revocation hearing.

Commissioner Cowen supported the project and believed that homes, churches, and schools in the same area make the neighborhood special. She felt it would beautify the property and was in support of screening in the back, and the block wall on the north and south property line.

Commissioner Francis felt that this was a big undertaking. He encouraged the applicant to address any issues and future plans with the neighbors, and to be a good neighbor. He reiterated that if there were three verifiable complaints, the Planning Commission could revoke the CUP. He was supportive of the block walls.

Chairman Griffin asked Assistant Planner Sowers for the wording of the possible new conditions to address the Commission's discussion. He was also in full support of the project. He wanted to see some screening on the northeast slope. He agreed with landscaping or softening of the two blocks walls.

Commissioner Bailey asked if a condition regarding the additional landscaping needed to be added to the resolution.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that it could be handled either way. Staff has heard the Planning Commissioner's comments. A condition requiring a detailed landscape and irrigation plan to be submitted for staff's approval and review is already included. Staff was aware of the Commission's intent regarding the landscaping.

Chairman Griffin clarified that it was the northeast slope across from the arroyo and the north and south block walls be softened with plantings. He was confident that because staff had recorded testimony, the issue would be handled appropriately.

The title of Resolution PC-05-18 MODIFYING an existing Conditional Use Permit by adding a two-story building for administrative offices and classrooms on property located at 1600 North Acacia Avenue was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Bailey, seconded by Commissioner Savage and passed by a vote of 5 - 0, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.


A request to clarify and amend Sections 15.30 (Commercial Zone Classifications) and 15.40 (Industrial Zone Classifications) of the Zoning Ordinance in conjunction with a previously adopted comprehensive code update.

MOTION by Commissioner Savage, seconded by Commissioner Cowen that this item be continued to July 27, 2005. It passed unanimously by voting members present 4 - 0, (Commissioner Bailey had left the room temporarily)



Commissioner Savage thanked staff for the early delivery of the agenda packet.


Chief Planner Rosen told the Planning Commission that the City Council had approved the budget and the recruitment process had begun for the Planning Technician position.


There was no one from the public who wished to speak on any matter within the Commission's jurisdiction.


The next Planning Commission meeting will be a special meeting scheduled for July 6, 2005, at 7:00 p.m. to review the Sunrise Assisted Living proposal.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:40 p.m.
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