LIVINGSTON PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING AGENDA
JULY 13, 2010
The regular meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the City Hall Conference Room on Tuesday, July 10, 2010. The meeting was called to order by Chair Soria at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present: Chair Roy Soria, Vice‑Chair Kaye Greeley, Commissioner Luis Enrique Flores, Commissioner Hugo Salgado, and Alternate Commissioner Manoj Bains.
Commissioners Absent: Commissioner Alex Gonzalez (Excused)
Staff Present: Administrative Assistant Filomena Arredondo, Community Development Director Donna Kenney, and Assistant City Attorney Jeffrey Massey.
Others Present: Katherine Schell-Rodriguez; David Blevins; John Yu – AT&T Wireless; James Marnatti – Foster Farms; Casper Van Keppel and Charlotte Kirkwood – URS Environmental Consultants; Myra Bettencourt; and others in the audience.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.
ACTION MINUTES FROM REGULAR MEETING OF JUNE 8, 2010
Commissioner Flores and Vice-Chair Greeley requested minor corrections to the minutes from the regular meeting of June 8, 2010, pages 3, 11, and 20.
Motion by Commissioner Flores, seconded by Commissioner Greeley, to approve the minutes from the regular meeting of June 8, 2010, with the requested corrections. Motion carried 5-0.
Members of the Audience
Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston
- Stated she was happy to see a larger number of people in the audience at a Planning Commission meeting and added that Planning Commission meetings are important because that is where projects originate, but yet tend to be most often neglected.
- Reminded everyone of her Web blog – https://thegardeningsnail.wordpress.com, and stated she has posted City Council minutes from 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and will be posting 2010 as they become available. Other documents available on her blog include Planning Commission meeting minutes from 2008 and 2009, the past two budgets from the City of Livingston, and links to the Grand Jury reports.
SITE PLAN/DESIGN REVIEW 2010-05 – AT&T WIRELESS
AT&T has applied for Site Plan/Design Review to install six (6) new panel antennas on an existing tower, and one new cabinet on the ground, located at 2370 Walnut Avenue, pursuant to LMC 5-5-8. The project proponent is AT&T Wireless.
Community Development Director Kenney presented the staff report and explained that the six (6) panel antennas are located at the 195-foot elevation of the existing tower on Walnut Avenue. There is a series of different levels of antennas and each level belongs to a different company. Carriers tend to come through and replace panel antennas and replace cabinets on the ground in an effort to increase their service to the area.
The panel-type antennas measure about two- (2) foot each and lattice tower property is surrounded by chain link fence and is connected to the storage units on Walnut Avenue. Although the lattice tower is visible from Highway 99 and from the Sports Complex, there will not be much visual difference as to what is out there already. It is staff’s understanding that this tower can support more antennas as long as the engineering is checked and possibly upgraded.
The project is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). There will not be any impacts to any animals on the ground, fish, or even people. It is out of the way and should have no effect on any biology or air quality, so it qualifies for the exemption.
Staff recommends that the Planning Commission review the project, listen to public comment, and make a recommendation of approval to the City Council for their August 3, 2010, meeting.
Project applicant, John Yu, was present to answer any questions.
· Asked the applicant if once this project is completed, it will have reached the maximum tower capacity.
Mr. Yu responded the tower capacity is really dependent on the engineering structural analysis which is done every time a carrier adds or switches out antennas. They make sure the tower is able to accommodate the change out and additional equipment. The structural analysis conducted by AT&T showed that the structure was capable of handling the additional load. That information has already been provided to the City Building Department.
· Thinks that too many antennas will look like the windmills at Pacheco Pass. She asked if there was a possibility of camouflaging this down the road.
Mr. Yu replied that at this particular location, it is very unlikely because it is already an existing facility. He explained that when asking for what they call “stell towers” (which look like other things such as trees or bell towers), cities or local jurisdictions have to take into consideration that the capacity and ability to accommodate co-location is somewhat reduced because these towers have a lot of structural loading issues. They have to remember that there are at least five or six other wireless carriers’ antennas on that tower.
Director Kenney said Mr. Yu is correct; there are several carriers on that tower. It is City policy to try to co-locate them so we have as few towers as possible. Director Kenney said she has been approached by a carrier who is looking at some sites downtown, so this might be something for consideration when that project does come in.
· Expressed concern about wind loading.
Mr. Yu explained that wind loading is a standard that they use. That is looked at by the Building and Planning Departments.
Director Kenney said that is correct. Wind load is something that they look at on every structure.
· Thanked the applicant for coming to the beautiful town of Livingston.
· He mentioned that he quickly research their company and knows that they are a solution team and he understands their needs, but he wonders if they understand Livingston’s needs in regards to innovation.
Mr. Yu said that for this particular project, their client AT&T Wireless is attempting to improve the wireless coverage in this particular area and definitely for the City of Livingston and they will be providing much greater data. He added that this is really a data-type of project because they are adding antennas of the 3G master data which are designed for iPhones.
· He expressed concern about this tower being too close to the Walnut Child Development Center and the possibility of electromagnetic fields harming the children. Although research shows there is not enough harm to the children, the facts are not really convincing, and he is very concerned about long term health problems.
· In regards to that tower reaching full capacity, he thinks it is going to be really packed, and with the Sports Complex there, there is going to be a lot of youth there. He questioned if this antenna is really necessary. Is this something that Livingston needs considering this vulnerable population being close by?
· Agrees with Commissioner Flores regarding his concerns about possible harm to the children.
· He looked at their plans and it says that the standard mounting hardware weighs 44 pounds, but he could not find anything indicating how much each of the antennas weighs.
Mr. Yu said he did not have that information with him, but he would obtain a specifications sheet and provide it to the Planning Department. He added that licensed engineers do this type of calculation and it gets reviewed by the Building Department to insure that it meets the building and safety standards.
Chair Soria said he had some concerns being that the standard amount of hardware was 44 pounds and the antennas were being mounted at the very top of the tower (195 feet).
Mr. Yu responded that is why they design this equipment and they make sure it is safe. He added that he has been doing this for 11 years and he has not yet encountered or heard of an antenna falling off the tower.
Chair Soria opened the Public Hearing at 7:22 p.m.
Myra Bettencourt, 1584 Duke Drive, Livingston, asked if this is just covering cell phones or also includes internet service.
Director Kenney responded she believes it is for both cell phones and internet service.
Chair Soria closed the Public Hearing at 7:24 p.m. as there was no further public comment.
Commissioner Flores stated that he understands that as the City continues to grow, more communication alternatives will be provided to the City. As Director Kenney mentioned, there is some interest in locating a new cell tower downtown. He worries about the potential harm electromagnetic fields can cause our population, especially young children. He would like the City to consider creating some sort of a buffer zone for these future towers that it is not near areas where a high level of this vulnerable population is located.
Director Kenney said her understanding is that the FCC has conducted various studies on this and has determined that the chances of something affecting the population are so low that they are not even supposed to take that into consideration on approving a site.
Commissioner Flores said he understands that and added that he should have prefaced his comments that approval or non-approval of future resolutions cannot take that into consideration; they can only take in planning components. There is a Federal law that states Planning Commissioners cannot look at safety concerns; they can only look at planning components – desirability, compatibility and necessity, and so that is why he was sort of leading toward determining if this antenna is really necessary, desirable, and compatible with the neighborhood, and those things which the Planning Commission can look at.
Motion by Commissioner Salgado, seconded by Commissioner Greeley, to approve Resolution 2010-05, a Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston Recommending to the City Council the Approval of Site Plan/Design Review 2010-05 for AT&T. Motion carried 4‑1, by the following vote:
AYES: Chair Soria, Vice-Chair Greeley, and Commissioners Bains and Salgado
NOES: Commissioner Flores
ABSENT: Commissioner Gonzalez
Director Kenney informed the applicant that this item will be on the City Council agenda of August 3, 2010, at 7:00 p.m.
SITE PLAN/DESIGN REVIEW 2006-01 AND NEGATIVE DECLARATION – FOSTER POULTRY FARMS
Foster Farms proposes to expand its rendering operation at the existing poultry processing Complex. The existing building is approximately 6,300 square feet in size and will be expanded by an additional 2,500 square feet of covered and enclosed space. The current rendering operation produces approximately 30,400 tons of poultry meal and 30,000 tons of poultry fat per year. Both poultry meal and poultry fat are used in the production of pet food and animal feed. The rendering plant expansion would add an additional 29,600 tons of finished product including 16,000 tons of feather meal per year. The building is proposed to be expanded from an existing building that is sitting vacant.
Staff analyzed this project through an Initial Study and a Negative Declaration. The City looked at both a Negative Declaration and a Mitigated Negative Declaration. What the mitigation does is give Foster Farms some conditions that they have to adhere to. During the process and a very intensive study, it was found that this project does qualify for a Negative Declaration, that the amount that it would impact the community will be miniscule compared to their existing operations.
The building was previously used for producing a liquid pet food ingredient, but has been out of service since September 2003. They will be installing various pieces of equipment: a continuous cooker, a crax press, a steam boiler, and storage bins and tanks. There will also be air handling systems including a condenser, venturi scrubber, cross-flow scrubber and regenerative thermal oxidizers. The building is set to have a negative air pressure so when they open the doors, unload everything, and then close the doors, the negative pressure should keep any odors inside the building.
A company called URS has been working on this for well over one year to analyze possible odors. They have been looking at smoke stacks, looking at the different buildings, looking at trucks coming and going, how many trucks of rendering are still going out now and how many would be coming in after this is added, so there has been a lot of components taken into consideration and at the end, they did come up with a Negative Declaration.
As far as Design Review, the building is set back in a complex of buildings so you will not see it from any public right-of-way or any other private properties. It will also have the same look that Foster Farms’ buildings do now. It will be metal and concrete and gray colors that kind of blend in with the other buildings at the site. The project is consistent with the General Plan’s Land Use Designation of General Industrial and it is consistent with the zoning of General Industrial (M-2).
The City has a sizable set of plans that shows both the floor plans and elevations of the building and the actual process that the product will go through from beginning to end.
Consultants Casper Van Keppel and Charlotte Kirkwood from URS Environmental Consultants, as well as James Marnatti from Foster Farms are available at the meeting to answer questions.
Because this project did end up being a Negative Declaration, the City is recommending approval of this project to the City Council. This item is tentatively scheduled for the August 3, 2010, City Council agenda.
· Asked for clarification of who was URS.
Director Kenney replied that URS is the environmental consultant for this project. They are the ones who did the background research, Initial Study and Negative Declaration.
· Foster Farms provided the Planning Commission with a lot of reading material and she has been studying it for the last few weeks. Her main concern is odor. She knows that Foster Farms works very hard to keep the odor issue down, but it does exist and it worries her even though they have the high technology equipment. She feels the odor is worse on Sunday for some reason. The Public Works Supervisor explained that sometimes washing the sewer, back-ups cause that and she doesn’t know if that is true at their plant, but it always happens on Sundays.
Jim Marnatti, Director of Environmental Affairs for Foster Poultry Farms, 1333 Swan Street, said they don’t process on Sunday, so he doesn’t know where that odor is coming from. If they were to have a sewer back up or something in that nature creating an odor issue, that would come to him, but he is not aware of anything.
Vice-Chair Greeley stated that on page 4 of the Initial Study/Negative Declaration material for this project, it talks about odor complaints and it says that no existing data based on odor for this facility has been identified and URS conducted a site visit on June 2, 2009, and met with plant personnel and they indicated that the facility has not received odor complaints from residents and she finds that hard to believe because she herself has made complaints about odor to the Air District prior to June 2nd, so that is confusing to her.
Mr. Marnatti explained that the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District is responsible for logging odor complaints. Their procedure is that if they receive an odor complaint, they would send someone out to the site and they will verify whether or not they can smell the odor that the person is complaining about. That is called a confirmed or non confirmed odor. It doesn’t necessarily determine the source of the odor.
For example, back in 2006, it was published in Merced Sun Star that there was a river behind City Hall that had a bunch of rotten fish in it and it was a huge source of odor. In this situation, there were 56 odor complaints registered with the Air District at the time and none were the responsibility of Foster Farms. There were no confirmed odors. The Air District sent at least five inspectors to the site. They opened the hatch, they smelled, they walked through the facility, they looked for rotting material, they walked through the receiving areas where the raw material is, and every time they went on Foster Farms’ property, they confirmed that odors were not coming from Foster Farms.
He is not saying that there were never any odors coming from Foster Farms. This is to address the area of concern that there is some gap in the CEQA evaluation because no odor complaints were registered. The technical definition of what is a confirmed odor is a formal process and there weren’t any against Foster Farms.
Vice Chair Greeley thinks that is rather amazing because she knows that what she smells is really a chicken smell and she is really concerned about that.
· She knows they will be rendering chickens and she asked if they were going to render other animals as well.
Mr. Marnatti said the purpose is to render what Foster Farms already processes. They don’t intend to render other animals. There are USDA concerns and laws that prevent that from happening. He added that they cannot take other material because they are certified for the product they produce – chickens. The rendering terms are specific to the product being rendered.
He cannot say that there is not going to be odor, but this process has taken the best state of the art technology and applied it to control the amount of odor. The reason you are smelling odors is because there is something that is in a gas. The purpose is to burn that gas so you don’t smell it.
The Air District is very specific about rendering plants. They were particularly careful with this process to review every aspect and that is what you were asked, to make sure that they had a defensible position, what they did is they looked at every potential emission source and they set standards for every part of this process. They put requirements in place so that the environment can be protected.
Because there is no mitigation directly with this project, it doesn’t mean there has been oversight or that there are no requirements associated with it. All of these things are designed to condition the air so that any potential odor impact is mitigated.
· Asked if their water goes into their own Waste Water Treatment Plant.
Mr. Marnatti responded, “Yes.” The only thing going to municipal sewer is from the restrooms.
· He also had a question about the odor, but it has been answered.
· Asked if his current facility has air cleaning equipment.
Mr. Marnatti responded it has basically an incinerator and a scrubbing system. Much smaller carbon footprint and much more fuel efficient, releases much less natural gas. They chose it because it does both incinerator and scrubbing.
· On page 2 of the staff report, it said the building was previously used for producing liquid pet food ingredient but has been out of service since September 2003. He asked what happened in those seven years.
Mr. Marnatti explained there was a market for that product at that time and it eventually stopped about seven years ago. They discontinued that process, removed the chemicals associated with it, and used the building for storage.
· He is curious and interested about any sort of green effort that is happening within the building itself.
Mr. Marnatti responded they have economizers with every project and they do anything that they can do using the best technology to minimize the amount of fuel and other environmental impacts.
Director Kenney said she thought there were continued discussions regarding recycled water such as water coming from the cooler buildings that they are recycling, putting up dewatering screens.
Mr. Marnatti said this will save many gallons of water. They are going to have a process that will allow them to reuse portions of wastewater redirected back into the plant for other processes, wash downs and so forth – not for sanitation practices. It is water that they can recycle and it saves a lot of money. He added that this rendering plant is one of the few projects that generates water, not consumes it. 75,000 gallons of water will be generated per day, a significant amount over all.
· Asked about item #3 of the Findings of Fact listed on the staff report.
Director Kenney said the section Commissioner Flores is referring to, numbers 1-8, those are findings that the Planning Commission will use for approval of the project. This is not information the applicant submitted, but information Staff added to help the Planning Commission make findings.
· Questioned why condition of approval #1 of the Planning Commission Resolution states that site plan and elevations were received on June 30, 2010, if the public review period was between June 1 and July 1, 2010.
Director Kenney explained that after the public review period, staff only received two comment letters. One was from the Air District stating that they agree with City staff’s conclusion and the other one was from MID saying that the project would not have any effect on any of their facilities. Once staff realized these were the only comments received and Foster Farms would not have to make any changes to their site plan, then staff requested additional sets of plans for the Planning file and for the Planning Commission’s packets and that is the date that those plans were received by Planning staff and they were date stamped when they were received.
· On page 9 of the Negative Declaration, on Air Quality, it talks about stabilizing the dust emissions, from the building and it talks about potential stabilizer suppressants, tarp or other suitable cover or vegetation ground cover. She asked if that is outside and if that is waste or dust from the building outside.
Mr. Marnatti explained that discharge is the finished product. Those are always in compliance with emissions controls, the emissions that could result from that are calculated.
He added that the Air District does calculate those types of emission because they do have a standard for particular matter. Two kinds of data are regulated. They have to have a permit.
Director Kenney said normally when you talk about dust; it tends to be with the actual construction. They have those under control. When they have their trucks coming in and out, too, they have them covered.
· On page 8 of the Negative Declaration, it’s indicated that this project will create 6 new jobs or 2 employees per shift. It states that it will increase waste water discharge by an estimated 75,400 gallons per day and will increase water demand by 18,500 gallons per day. He asked Director Kenney if the City’s water capacity able to provide that amount of water?
Director Kenney said they will be recycling water from other areas of the plant. Recycled water is being used in other areas too. As far as ground water, there has not been a specific ground water study done for this project. But the City’s Water Master Plan, done in 2007, indicated that because of the nearby river, discharges by both industrial and domestic sewer plants, leakage from canals, and irrigation water, there is sufficient water – it all keeps our water in equilibrium.
Mr. Marnatti stated that if you look at net water use, it will go down. The net impact of water supply will be lessened. This will use 18,000 gallons less which is a significant reduction.
· Expressed concern that Yamato Colony School is too close. Asked what effects will that have on school children.
Director Kenney explained that during the research process, URS asked for a map of sensitive receptors in the area. There is a model that they use for air quality and odor that takes into consideration sensitive receptors like the school. It was found to not be an impact.
· Several agencies indicate that there is no impact on the odor, but people that reside in the City of Livingston know that there are odors. He doesn’t want to point fingers at Foster Farms, but if it is not Foster Farms, then where are the odors coming from? Those are his concerns. He added that there is a population of over 13,000 in the City of Livingston and he feels kind of in a balance between Foster Farms and the citizens of Livingston. He gets complaints from the citizens of Livingston about bad odor and he can smell it too.
· He is not sure they should take any action now and live with their decision later or try to find out where that odor is coming from before they approve this project.
Commissioner Flores stated that they are associating the odors from other sources in the City of Livingston to Foster Farms.
Director Kenney said that what was analyzed is the odor that this project might create, not that which exists. While they were doing their research, it was discovered that there was more than one type of smell. Some people may refer to a greasy type of smell, or fried chicken smell, while others refer to a honey smell from the corn dogs which many people don’t find irritating.
Director Kenney reinforced that what the Planning Commission was to look at is what additional odor this project might cause, not resolve the odors that are currently happening in the City. They are only discussing future odors that may be caused.
Chair Soria wonders what will happen in the future with increased smell with this rendering plant. He gives Foster Farms credit for always improving, but still has odor concerns.
Mr. Marnatti said there won’t be any feather dryers or any likely source of current odor.
The meat side is all they are expanding here is not going to exacerbate or make it worse than the existing issue. Foster Farms as a company is trying to improve that. He doesn’t think they would have a good defendable position if they didn’t.
What they have is a Reid designed process. Reid came in and did a thorough evaluation. They identified specific constituents and how they were going to design for them. They took Foster Farms rendering odors versus other rendering plants around the nation and Foster Farms had much less odor than other rendering plants of a similar size.
They want to improve their process. It is not in their best interest to stink up the town. They are going to continue to evaluate. These are chemicals that will scrub these odors out.
Vice-Chair Greeley asked how long they have been rendering.
James Marnatti responded since the 1970’s.
Vice-Chair Greeley asked if he was saying that smells now are from existing operations and they will be improving that.
James Marnatti replied they have designed an air flow system that has a negative flow and the air exchanges within the building where odors are most intense, and those are scrubbed far more frequently than the standard or baseline engineering required. They were designed specifically to take in fresh air and make sure nothing escapes. Fresh product is brought in, sealed, ran through the process and the finished product is out.
Vice-Chair Greeley thanked James Marnatti for answering their questions.
Chair Soria asked what kind of finished product is he talking about?
Mr. Marnatti explained there are two types in this expansion. They are going to do grilled chicken and render fat collected from that. Baseline product – use it to produce diesel fuel, they send it off – biodiesel.
You get a corn meal consistency material. That is the rendering meat. Cook it. Extract the water and condense it. About 65% moisture is in the standard poultry meat and after rendering – 3 percent moisture. Granular material, it’s a protein. Enclosed load out, you will not have a lot of dust. You will have a finished product that doesn’t rot and doesn’t spoil. It is taken to a mill or any other processor to use it as a protein feed stock.
Chair Soria opened the Public Hearing at 8:14 p.m.
Katherine Schell Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston, said it would be nice if Mr. Marnatti could produce maybe a short one-page fact sheet of all these things that Mr. Marnatti is explaining. Something short translated so that the average person can understand.
Director Kenney said fortunately there have been a lot of good questions and Mr. Marnatti has provided good answers to that and so staff can take a copy of the minutes to the City Council meeting.
Chair Soria closed the Public Hearing at 8:16 p.m. there being no further public comment.
Commissioner Bains asked how long is the project going to take to complete.
Mr. Marnatti responded about nine (9) months.
Motion by Commissioner Flores, seconded by Commissioner Salgado, to adopt Resolution 2010‑06, a Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston Recommending to the City Council the Adoption of the Initial Study and Negative Declaration and Approval of Site Plan/Design Review 2006-01 for the Foster Farms Rendering Plant Project. Motion carried 4-1, by the following vote:
AYES: Vice-Chair Greeley and Commissioners, Bains, Flores, and Salgado
NOES: Chair Soria
ABSENT: Commissioner Gonzalez
Nothing to report.
Nothing to report.
Nothing to report.
· Thanked everyone in the audience for attending the Planning Commission meeting.
· Thanked Filomena for having the minutes so quickly even though the last meeting was three hours long.
· The San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network invites all University of California alumni, current UC students and students planning to enroll at UC campuses this fall as freshmen to attend their annual barbecue scheduled for August 4, 2010, at Lake Yosemite in Merced.
· The Fifth Annual Livingston Community Network Multicultural Festival will be held the last Sunday in August (August 29, 2010) at Memorial Park. He invited everyone to attend this event and support the Community Network. All moneys raised will go towards scholarships for high school and middle school students.
· He would like to see the City invest more in the installation of sidewalks on B Street, from Selma Herndon School to Winton Parkway. Sidewalks are really needed there. With the new medical center coming across the street, sidewalks are very, very important.
Director Kenney stated that sidewalks are scheduled to be installed in that area in the next couple months.
Chair Soria mentioned that transportation moneys are being used to pave the road from Briarwood Drive to Robin Avenue with a 6-foot strip of black top by the sidewalk away from the road which can be used by people riding bikes or walking.
Director Kenney stated that in addition to the City installing the sidewalk on the south side of B Street, there has been some rumors of movement on the Livingston Commons/Rancho San Miguel project and one of their conditions of approval is to install a sidewalk on their side from Las Casitas Del Sol to the corner of Winton Parkway.
· The Safe Routes to Schools Sidewalk Project is well underway. They are moving along very quickly. The City is gearing up for pretty good sidewalks.
· Thanked everyone in the audience for attending the Planning Commission meeting.
Community Development Director Kenney
· Recognized the valuable efforts of City Engineer Nanda Gottiparthy and his crew members for putting together these grant applications and helping the City win millions of dollars in grants for alley paving, water and sewer line replacement, and sidewalk installation. A big Thank You goes out to City Engineer Gottiparthy.
Administrative Assistant Arredondo
· Reminded Chair and Planning Commissioners that they need to complete their AB1234 Ethics Training on-line and a copy of the certificate of completion must be submitted to the Planning Department.
Director Kenney informed the Commission that if anyone needs online access, they can go to the Livingston Branch Library and the Senior Center.
Assistant City Attorney Massey
· Nothing to report.
The regular meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:26 p.m.
APPROVED: August 10, 2010
Chair, ROY SORIA Secretary of the Planning Commission,
DONNA M. KENNEY