Planning Commission: Public comment sets Council stage for FC hearing

December 02, 2005
Santa Paula News

Comment from the public as well as Planning Commissioners might have set the stage for next week's City Council consideration of development in Fagan Canyon.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesComment from the public as well as Planning Commissioners might have set the stage for next week's City Council consideration of development in Fagan Canyon. At the November 21 meeting, commissioners voted 3-1 to approve the proposed development in its original form of 2,147 dwelling units.Commissioner Jennifer Matos said she preferred the smaller plan of almost 1,900 homes. Commissioner Jesse Ornelas has recused himself from the hearings due to his position with Cabrillo Economic Development Corp., an affordable housing builder and manager.Centex Homes has proposed the canyon development that would include two new elementary schools, a diverse mix of housing, 60 acres of parks, 900 acres of open space, and a village core retail center of 25,000 square feet. The proposed project would include a Future Farmers of America facility and would have six neighborhoods.We CARE, a group formed in opposition to the project that initially centered its concerns on traffic and the number of affordable housing units, has filed the paperwork to begin the signature process for a land-use measure. The measure had qualified for the ballot but was rejected by City Clerk Josie Herrera based on petitions not containing full information, a decision upheld by the courts.The measure would limit residential and commercial development to 80-continguous acres every five years unless voters approve larger projects. We CARE also plans a second measure, a referendum on the council's development decision.During the November 21, meeting Jennifer Dumas of We CARE questioned aspects of the development agreement, including the lack of compensation to individual homeowners on several streets who would be required to back out of their driveways into heightened canyon construction traffic. Moorpark has a development agreement where homeowners would be compensated up to $36,000 each for construction truck traffic, Dumas noted.Later in the meeting, city consultant Margit Allen noted that Moorpark's North Park Village calls for about 1,500 units that will be accessed by two roads. A temporary offsite construction easement agreement has been negotiated with 19 property owners, who agreed to a $20,000 payment and, if the new road misses the completion deadline, up to a maximum $36,000 payment.Leslie Leavens-Crowe told the council that her home overlooks the canyon and that the Fagan Canyon development will "change our view forever... so it may come as a surprise" that she supports the original development plan.
Not so Fred Robinson, who told the commission that he lives near the intersection of View and Glade drives. "I have three major concerns about this project... traffic, traffic, traffic," said Robinson.We CARE co-founder John Wisda said that the project would require a sound wall to be built in areas most impacted by canyon traffic, roads must be of a maximum width for fire protection, and that water issues need further study. Wisda also noted that "with a full size project, it needs a full-size retail center... if you have affordable and low-income they'll need services," and a full-size shopping center would also capture traffic within the canyon.Homeowners with the highest traffic impacts must be compensated to build turnarounds so they don't have to back into traffic, noted Wisda, and two sports parks should be created for soccer and baseball, not combined at one site where the fields overlap.Glade Drive resident John Kulwiec said he is not worried about traffic impacts. The apartments around the Valencia Town Center "creates an intimacy and togetherness" that would be replicated in Fagan Canyon, said Kulwiec, an architect. "...Do what is best for the whole community, not just a few.""The key to the whole process is the issue of keeping our design expectations high," said architect Doug Nelson."In my opinion, the most important feature that came out of the plan was the diversity in housing," said Steve Coyle, who led the seven-day planning charrette that followed numerous community and neighborhood meetings.Fagan Canyon development has been on the drawing board since 2003 and "It's not so much a Centex plan, but a plan of the citizens," said filmmaker Delaine Ellis. "There's a mix of commercial and retail space interconnected with walking trails, truly a smart growth community."More speakers sited traffic impacts and quality of life issues as the root of their opposition.

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