Commission approves original Centex Fagan Canyon plan, asks for Foothill Rd. access

November 25, 2005
Santa Paula News

After an almost five-hour hearing, the Santa Paula Planning Commission approved the Fagan Canyon development, with a majority opting for the original development plan with caveats.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesAfter an almost five-hour hearing, the Santa Paula Planning Commission approved the Fagan Canyon development, with a majority opting for the original development plan with caveats. Monday’s special meeting was held at the Community Center and featured public comment from those supporting the proposed project.Added to the plan was a condition for Foothill Road access to the project, a move taken by commissioners in an effort to lessen traffic impacts in other sections of the city. In a series of votes, the commission approved the final Environmental Impact Report, a General Plan amendment boosting the number of homes that can be built in the canyon, and gave the go ahead for City Council action on a LAFCO application of annexation.The General Plan amendment allows for 2,165 homes in the canyon that hugs the city’s northern border, including existing dwellings and 10 units for the upper reaches of the canyon. The second phase had originally been targeted for 325 homes in the area not controlled by Centex.Centex Homes is allotted 2,147 dwelling units, and the revision back to the original plan restored cuts to parks, the Future Farmers of America facility and schools. Commissioner Jennifer Matos cast the only dissenting vote, noting that she preferred the smaller plan and that “everything we have heard is traffic, traffic, traffic... the only way to disperse the pain” is to create more canyon access.“I’ve wrestled with this and felt quite strongly” about traffic impacts, but Foothill Road was not designed as collector street and would require “very deep study,” said Commissioner Gary Nasalroad.“More ways in and out the better,” added Commissioner John Turturro, who noted that, although his preference would be for six passageways, “If we could add a fifth I’d be happy.... I’m absolutely in favor of the Foothill connection.”
Even with the addition of an examination of Foothill Road, Matos said she preferred the revised smaller project of approximately 1,887 homes. “I think it gives our council more latitude and more teeth to get the housing they want in the canyon,” she noted.The revised plan is a “gutted fish” that “violates rather than supports” the tenants of traditional design communities, said Turturro. The revision also does not reflect the years of work and planning by the community, developer, city staff, council and commission, as well as “expert (public comment) testimony” from architects and others.With 17 years’ Planning Commission experience in Ventura and Santa Paula, Commissioner Gary Nasalroad said “I have never encountered a development proposal that didn’t come down to” traffic and water. The proposed Fagan Canyon development is “very large, and there was more than water and traffic involved there... that is why it has taken two and half years to get to this point.”Nasalroad noted that the “review and public outreach that went with this project was extraordinary,” and that it would have been “easier for Centex” to build without the charrette process. Fulfilling housing goals and diversity, economics, schools, and prevention of urban sprawl were among the positives cited by Nasalroad.But on the “negative side, we have traffic, lots of traffic...there’s no reason to downplay the issue,” although his concerns over water have been overcome by studies and assurances. Nasalroad was impressed by the “broad local support” of the project and the number of speakers - 80 in support, 30 against - who have offered public comment. “Fagan Canyon is not a panacea” for all ills, but presents a “huge economic opportunity for our community.”“Like Commissioner Matos, I also live up” close to Highway 150, a mayor canyon route, said Commission Chairman Mike Sommer. “Traffic has also been a concern from day one,” but Sommer said he believes that impacts can be mitigated.

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