LIVINGSTON PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING AGENDA
MAY 12, 2009
The regular meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the
City Council Chambers on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. The meeting was called
to order by Chair Blevins at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present: Chair David Blevins, Vice-Chair Ramon Avila, Commissioner Roy Soria, Commissioner Kaye Greeley, Commissioner Leticia Soto, Alternate Commissioner Manoj Bains.
Commissioners Absent: None
Staff Present: Administrative Assistant Filomena Arredondo, Community Development Director Donna Kenney, and Assistant City Attorney Melanie Donnelly.
Others Present: Council Liaison Martha Nateras, Angelina Torrez, Maria Cortez, and Katherine Schell-Rodriguez.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.
ACTION MINUTES FROM THE APRIL 14, 2009, REGULAR MEETING
Motion by Vice-Chair Avila, seconded by Commissioner Soto, to approve the minutes from the regular meeting of April 14, 2009. Motion carried 5-0.
REZONE 2009-01 AND CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT 2009-02 –WALNUT SPORTS COMPLEX – DWIGHT WAYAND WALNUT AVENUE.
At their regular meeting of April 7, 2009, the City Council adopted an Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Livingston Sports Complex Project. To continue the development process, this project requires rezoning the southern 12.6 acres of the 26.2 acre Project site, from M-1 (Limited Industrial) to P/OS (Parks and Open Space), which permits parks (Rezone 2009‑01). In addition, a Conditional Use Permit is required for the entire project site for the future construction of public buildings, utility services, and temporary community gardens (CUP 2009‑02).
Staff displayed a picture of the proposed Sports Complex and explained that right now it’s in two separate parcels. One part is already zoned Parks and Open Space, but the other part is still zoned Industrial. The industrial zoning district does not allow parks as a permitted or conditional use; therefore, this rezone is necessary in order to move forward with these plans. She added that the environmental analysis has already been done and the City Council approved the Mitigated Negative Declaration in April 2009 for the whole site. This whole site will also need a Conditional Use Permit for the public buildings, for utility services and for a temporary community garden.
Staff pointed out the areas being considered for the community garden use. She explained that they are also talking about planting fruit trees there. Since fruit trees take a few years to grow, staff is looking at the perimeter very carefully and is trying to be mindful of all the permanent uses when considering the temporary uses. Staff would hate to have trees growing there for four or five years and then get the financing to construct the park and have to remove them.
Staff explained the reason the City is moving forward on the environmental and getting the rezone and the use permit in place is because there is a possibility of a lot of stimulus funding coming down the road and the City wants to be ready to put in their application.
Commissioner Greeley questioned if the rezoning will include the community garden.
Staff responded that the buildings, the utilities, and the temporary garden all require a Conditional Use Permit.
Vice-Chair Avila asked if part of the field will be used as drainage.
Staff responded the City has been talking to WalMart about options for their storm water. One option would be to contain it in underground vaults and the other option would be to use one or two of the Sports Complex fields for a drainage basin. If WalMart uses the fields at the Sports Complex, they would engineer and dig out the basins for the City.
Planning staff has been meeting with Recreation staff and talking to the architect about making sure that there is a slight grade and berms to facilitate drainage off the fields themselves. Staff added that Fresenius Medical Care is talking about doing a 10,000 sq. ft. building in approximately a year. They have a small drainage basin now where they want to locate this building and could use our fields instead. Maybe staff can work with them to join WalMart with the engineering and digging costs.
Commissioner Soto asked who would be paying for the trees and the gardening.
Staff replied it would be Pastor Ruth and his organization.
Staff said she has been in contact with Tree Partners in Atwater. They said they have approximately 1,000 trees that the City of Livingston could have access to and use throughout the City at no charge.
Commissioner Soto asked if the City will have to bear the cost of removing all the trees when the time comes to build.
Staff responded that they hope to restrict trees to the edges of the park so the City would not have to remove them for 20 or 30 years.
Commissioner Greeley questioned who suggested the use of this land for a community garden. She thinks this is a wonderful use of land, but feels that they can use other land that is more agriculturally compatible. She added that planting fruit trees can be a problem with kids.
Staff responded she did not sit in on the early discussions and is not sure where the original idea came from, but as soon as staff learned about the fruit trees, they started making plans to control the areas where they would be located.
Commissioner Greeley asked if there was consideration of any of the other property that the City owns.
Staff replied she has been part of looking at one or two other locations. One of the locations is not a City property and they want $900 a month rent. The other location is City property on Livingston-Cressey and Olive. The City Manager has gone over to look at it, but there could be a constraint on water. At the Walnut Sports Complex they know they have water onsite feeding some of the landscaping and they are probably thinking they could just hook into that.
Commissioner Soria asked if the house that sits right next to the property line from the 2 ½ acres on Livingston-Cressey and Olive has City water, and what would it take to hook up the water to the 2 ½ acres.
Staff responded that wherever the Community garden goes, if it does not have immediate or direct access to water; the Hunger Task Force would be responsible for putting in water lines to get water to their site. Staff’s understanding is that they are trying to invest as little money in the project as possible. They are trying to utilize what the City already has, so anything more than maybe a couple hundred dollars would be considered a constraint to them.
Commissioner Soria expressed great concern on planting fruit trees at the Sports Complex. He thinks that if City can get Fresinius and Blueberry Crossing to grade those four fields within the next year or two, a community garden and fruit trees there would not be a good idea.
Staff said that if a community garden is planted there, she would prefer to see it in the footprint of the future community building because that is probably going to be the last thing built on this property. It would be a lot better to keep the other areas open for those possibilities of development by someone other than the City.
Commissioner Soria mentioned that the other piece of property they were looking at is out on Washington Boulevard. There is plenty of land there and if the City is not going to rent it or make use of it within the next few years, that would be a great place for a community garden. There are two agricultural wells and a domestic well there that could be utilized. There is also about six acres of oak trees there that can be made into a park so that during lunch or when they finish working in the garden at the end of the day, they can go and sit in the shade. That would be more ideal than at the Sports Complex.
Staff explained that one of the considerations for the community garden is that it be at walkable distance so that senior citizens can walk a couple of blocks and work in the garden, get their vegetables and then walk back home.
Commissioner Soria said that there are senior citizens that live onPeach Avenue, Briarwood Drive, or further down, and they are not going to walk all the way across town to the garden and then walk back home, so he cannot understand what is the difference between the distance from Robin Avenue to Dwight Way or to Washington Boulevard.
Staff responded that one consideration is that there is going to be a bus stop at the Sports Complex, so people on one side of town could take the bus, pick up a few vegetables, go over to WalMart and get what they need and then get back on the bus and go to the other side of town.
Staff added that she does not know how they intend to set up the community garden – if there will be individual plots signed out to people, or if it would just be one big group garden.
Commissioner Soria thinks that if the City Council, Planning Commission, City Manager, and staff get together with Pastor Ruth and go out there to the property on Washington Boulevard, he would change his mind about the location for the community garden.
Staff said she would mention it to the City Manager.
Alternate Commissioner Bains asked who is going to be in charge of this garden and how that will work.
Staff responded she believes it would be Pastor Ruth and his group, but she doesn’t think they have ironed out any details yet as to how it would work. Their focus right now is trying to secure a location.
Vice-Chair Avila referred to the Notice of Completion and Environmental Document which mentions that the construction schedule is beginning in the summer of 2009, and continues for approximately 20 months and is anticipated to complete at the end of 2010. He then asked if the schedule would change if this community garden is put in.
Staff responded that it is hard to really create a schedule on a project of this size. Funding issues come up and there are a lot of reasons why construction projects get put off, so the schedule itself isn’t critical to using that environmental document.
Chair Blevins opened the Public Hearing at 7:21 p.m.
Angelina Torrez, 1620 Jantz Street, asked if they have a price tag on the total Sports Complex.
Staff responded it is approximately a little over $20 Million, and added that as time goes on, it will increase.
Ms. Torrez asked where this money is coming from.
Staff replied the City does not have the money for it yet. Staff is doing all the entitlement first and the environmental document because when these Obama Stimulus Funds come through, they want projects that are shovel ready, and they make a decision within just a couple of months.
Ms. Torrez said many people are trying to modify their loans through the stimulus funds that are coming down from Obama, but some are not being able to qualify. She wonders if there is too much focus on this instead of what is really hurting right now which is the fee increase coming up for the citizens of Livingston.
Staff stated this is the time to get ready for grants. She explained that normally sewer grants are separate from water grants or park grants. They keep all those funds separate, so even if the City was able to capture a couple million dollars for this site, they could not use it on anything but parks. Funding is always targeted.
Staff added that as far as the City’s sewer and water applications for the Stimulus funding goes, staff has talked to the State Revolving Fund folks and they are funding projects right now. There are projects that have their environmental documents done on their sewer plants and they have their fee schedules adopted and they are getting funded right now.
Ms. Torres thinks that planting fruit trees at the Sports Complex is not a good idea. There are going to be people out there trying to pick the fruit. There are going to be accidents and lawsuits and she doesn’t think the City needs any of that. Then you have the maintenance, the pruning, and the cleaning. They really should take that into consideration. She added that she does not know who is paying the bill, but it cannot go back to the citizens of Livingston.
Chair Blevins closed the Public Hearing at 7:25 p.m.
· Asked that if the Commission wants to move to approve the community gardens, they eliminate the fruit trees.
· She agrees with Commissioner Soria.
· He has mixed emotions about making more drainage to use as parks. He doesn’t think it is working out for Recreation. At the time when this idea first came up, he thought it was a great idea because he thought they were going to have nice little parks like they have in Turlock, but they are not the same. He coaches baseball and softball and playing in a drainage hole sometimes is very difficult.
· He feels they are being presented with two different topics. He thinks they should approve the Rezoning and Conditional Use Permit and once the community garden project starts going, hopefully the Planning Commission will be able to get more input and more recommendations to the City Council.
· He is personally in favor of the Sports Complex project. He has been coaching at the Sports Complex for several years and he feels they are nice fields and other than the drainage, he has not had any problems. If they could work on grading a little bit more, that would be a perfect place to play.
Staff mentioned that Jacquie Benoit from the Recreation Department is involved in the planning process and she is also very concerned about the drainage. She added that it was Ms. Benoit’s suggestion that the drainage come off of the fields into that corner.
Commissioner Soria asked staff if they could adopt the resolution eliminating the community garden and the fruit trees.
Staff replied that since the Use Permit is for three items – the public buildings, the utility services, and the temporary garden use, the Planning Commission could approve the Use Permit for just two of the items – the buildings and the utilities, or they could also approve the community garden with the condition that no fruit trees be planted.
Following discussion, it was moved by Commissioner Soria, seconded by Chair Blevins, to adopt Resolution 2009‑04, a Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston Recommending to the City Council the Approval of Rezone 2009-01 for the Walnut Sports Complex and Approving Conditional Use Permit 2009-02 for the Complex, Subject to City Council Approval of Rezone 2009-01, eliminating the community garden and the fruit trees. Motion carried 5-0, by the following vote:
AYES: Chair Blevins, Vice-Chair Avila, and Commissioners Soto and Soria
NOES: Commissioner Greeley
· Complimented the Key Club from Livingston High School for doing an outstanding job helping out at the community yard sale. They were very helpful and she was very impressed with them.
· Invited everyone to the Youth Baseball/Softball closing ceremonies on Saturday, May 16, 2009, at Memorial Park. There will be a coaches’ game after the closing ceremonies.
· A question came up at the last meeting concerning the name change for the Livingston Community Center to the Child Development Center. Staff called the Center and they said that the name change occurred eight months ago because they wanted to discourage people from trying to rent the hall.
· At the April Planning Commission meeting, there was a question concerning screening in open areas serving alcohol. Staff went back to the City Code in the version before 2005, but found nothing that required fencing or screening of the patio area. Administrative Assistant Arredondo did a little bit more research and found that in Resolution 2001-03, for Linda’s Restaurant in the Fuentes Plaza, there was one condition where the applicant must provide a screen over in open areas (windows). This is the only reference found to that and this condition was specific to that site and not to the whole City.
· The environmental document for the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant is out for review. There are no entitlements associated with that at this time; it is only the environmental document, so it will not be going to the Planning Commission, only to the City Council. However, Planning Commissioners have the right to make comments as private citizens, so staff provided them with the document so that they may read it. Copies of the document are available at City Hall for people to pick up. The document is out for a 45-day review period that ends June 25, 2009. It is also available on the City website, the Livingston Branch Library, and the Senior Center.
The regular meeting was adjourned by consensus at 7:37 p.m., to the next Planning Commission meeting on June 9, 2009.
APPROVED: June 9, 2009
Chair, DAVID BLEVINS Secretary of the Planning Commission,
DONNA M. KENNEY