MARCH 9, 2010

MINUTES

LIVINGSTON PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

MARCH 9, 2010

7:00 P.M.

The regular meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the City Council Chambers on Tuesday, March 9, 2010.  The meeting was called to order by Chair Blevins at 7:00 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Chair David Blevins, Commissioner Roy Soria, Commissioner Kaye Greeley, and Alternate Commissioner Manoj Bains.

Commissioners Absent: None

Staff Present:                 Administrative Assistant Filomena Arredondo, Community Development Director Donna Kenney, and Assistant City Attorney Jeffrey Massey.

Others Present:                        Council Liaison Martha Nateras, Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, Luis Flores, Serafim Aguiar, Lucy Aguiar, Judy Blevins, and Michael Blevins.                                         

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.

CONSENT AGENDA

ACTION MINUTES FROM REGULAR MEETING OF NOVEMBER 10, 2009, AND ACTION MINUTES FROM REGULAR MEETING OF DECEMBER 8, 2009

Motion by Commissioner Greeley, seconded by Alternate Commissioner Bains, to approve the minutes from the regular meetings of November 10, 2009, and December 8, 2009. Motion carried 4-0.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Luis Flores, 707 Almondwood Drive, Livingston, questioned if staff had an update on the proposed hotel project on Winton Parkway.

Community Development Director Kenney responded that the developer had been focusing his resources on another project and since that project has been completed, he plans to meet with City staff in a month or two and get back on track with the Livingston hotel project.

Mr. Flores asked if there will be an EIR on this project.

Director Kenney responded that will be determined by the environmental analysis.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

SITE PLAN/DESIGN REVIEW 2010-01 AND CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT 2010-01 – SERAFIM AGUIAR, 1333 SECOND STREET

Applicant, Serafim Aguiar, applied for a Site Plan/Design Review and a Conditional Use Permit to be able to keep a gate, chain and lanterns on a fence, a monument, and a rear covered patio structure which do not meet Code requirements and are currently located on his property at 1333 Second Street, in an R-1 single family residential zoning district.

Community Development Director Donna Kenney presented the staff report and provided some background information on the project. She explained that City staff has been working with Mr. Aguiar since August 2008, when complaints were received from his neighbors concerning various zoning code violations on his property including accumulation of machinery parts and other objects stored or used as decorations in the front and rear yards. When staff received these complaints, the City did not have a Code Enforcement Officer, so Public Works Supervisor Jim Rightsell and Community Development Director Donna Kenney began working with Mr. Aguiar on getting his property cleaned up. Once Code Enforcement Officer Ramon Montañez came on board, he continued to work with Mr. Aguiar to complete the clean-up. Mr. Aguiar has removed some objects, but he wishes to keep a few items that do not meet Code such as the mechanical monument covered with a protective dish/umbrella, the iron chains, lanterns, a gate for the front fence, and a metal structure in his rear yard that he would like to use as a carport with the addition of a tarp (different views of these items are attached to the staff report).

Director Kenney informed Mr. Aguiar that because these items do not meet Code, he would have to apply for a Conditional Use Permit and a Site Plan/Design Review. Mr. Aguiar has been cooperating with City staff and submitting all the required information. Unfortunately, because of the numerous neighbor complaints and because the applicant does not meet Code requirements, Director Kenney felt it necessary to recommend denial of Conditional Use Permit 2010-01 and Site Plan/Design Review 2010-01.

Serafim Aguiar and his daughter Lucy Aguiar were present to answer questions. They brought to the meeting numerous pictures of the various items found on the property. 

Chair Blevins opened the Public Hearing at 7:08 p.m.

Serafim Aguiar, 1333 Second Street, stated that due to some hardships and long hours of work, things built up and he was unable to work in his yard as much as he would have liked to. He explained where all the items came from and stated that it all has some history behind it. The metal structure that he put up in the rear yard was made for use as a monkey bar. Since he had a motor home at the time, he added another piece to it to have room to park the motor home. He then added a wheel on top for decoration. The reason it is 13 feet high is because it had to be high enough for the motor home. The posts have concrete footings and will stand strong for many years. He added that although there have been some complaints about his property, he has also received various compliments because everything he has there is very unique.

Lucy Aguiar stated that her father likes to refurbish things – he finds a use for everything. He has been adding more and more stuff over the years. She added that her father likes to create things that last a long time. He goes beyond what anybody else would so it can last forever.

She explained that the ornamental fence that her father built in the front yard was handcrafted and created with various antique and solid forms of iron coming from different machinery that was used throughout the years. It has been in place for longer than 20 years. The general layout of the front yard is rustic and historic in nature. The front yard contains an anchor, an old plow, antique milking buckets that are used as planters, and an old electrical box that her father converted to a mailbox which is creative and functional. All these materials are antiques and recycled, but they all have registry and beauty. The rest of the landscaping includes, cactus, river rocks, abalone shells, and iron planters. It is all consistent with the iron chain fence and it underlines her father’s particular taste – simple and beautiful with historical aspects to it. Her father created all this from his imagination and with his own hands and it would be a shame to destroy it. She knows this is not the style everyone loves, but it has its own beauty.

Ms. Aguiar explained that the metal structure in the back yard is solid and it has been there for a long time. It was not created as a carport, but as an exercise structure. It had ropes on both ends and monkey bars would go across and a ladder at some point in the middle so if you don’t quite make it across, you can go down. She added that her father has already let go of the idea of turning it into a carport, but he would like the structure to stand because it has been there for a long time.

She mentioned that 20 years ago, the City wanted her father to tear down the white block fence located in the rear yard, but he applied for a Variance and he was allowed to keep it and now it still stands clean, straight, and solid. It’s going to stand probably five times longer than all the wood fences that you see in alleys throughout town.

Ms. Aguiar stated that her father has been working slowly, but steadily at cleaning up and organizing his property. He has now cleaned up approximately 80% of the property and it’s looking prettier everyday, but he has still a lot to do. It’s a slow and expensive process. He tries to do most of the clean up work on dump days.

Mr. Aguiar asked the Planning Commission to favor his situation. He said he is willing to pull a permit for the electrical portion of the lanterns and have the inspector look at it. 

The Aguiars showed the Planning Commission their pictures and explained where the materials came from.

Director Kenney explained the two items before the Planning Commission were 1) the Conditional Use Permit to allow the structures above the maximum height permitted and 2) a recommendation to the City Council to approve or deny the Site and Design Review of everything on the property. Director Kenney clarified that since Mr. Aguiar already removed the dish on the mechanical earth monument, it will no longer have a height issue, so the Conditional Use Permit for height would focus on the 8’ tall gate and the 6’- 6 ½’ tall lanterns. 

Katherine Schell Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, stated that she wants to stand up for eccentricity and in these modern days of the cookie cutter developments where everything looks so much the same, it’s nice to see something that is a little bit different although she would like it a whole lot more if it was a lot less rusty – but it sounds like he is working on that. She understands the idea of wanting to take bits and pieces of history and recombining them into something else that has meaning to oneself. She also understands that one person’s idea of art isn’t necessarily someone else’s idea of art. Since Mr. Aguiar has been doing this for a good 30 years or more, she guesses that he was there first – maybe. She hopes that the Planning Commission and that later the City Council can come up with a way to accommodate a little eccentricity because without it, we lose a part of our soul.

Commissioners’ Comments:

Greeley

·        Asked if the height of the monkey bars in the back were in question.

Director Kenney responded, “No,” and added that accessory structures are allowed a maximum of 15 feet.

·        She thinks Mr. Aguiar is quite an artist and she agrees with Ms. Schell-Rodriguez that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. She understands that to Mr. Aguiar and to many other people in town this is beautiful, She thinks their pictures should be in the Ranch Home Magazine. They are absolutely gorgeous and for a lot of people who like eccentricity, as Ms. Schell-Rodriguez said, it’s interesting; however, he lives in a neighborhood and that is the problem and there are also some guidelines with the City on what can be and what cannot be. She appreciates that he uses things that have history. It seems that the yard looks too cluttered and too busy for his neighbors, and that may be what this is about, with the exception of the gate and some other things being too high.

Lucy Aguiar stated that things had been piled up behind the fence, but her father has now cleared out a big percentage of that.

·        She can see where that complaint would come from because if she lived next door to Mr. Aguiar, she would want it cleaned up, too. She thinks there is beauty here, but it should be in some neat detail, and maybe that is where Mr. Aguiar is getting the complaints.

Bains

·        Asked staff if it was possible for Mr. Aguiar to fix the rear structure to comply with City code.

Staff responded the rear structure was included as part of the Site and Design Review because Mr. Aguiar had expressed an interest in putting a tarp there for shade, but the City does not have a problem with the height on a climbing structure.

·        Asked Mr. Aguiar if he was still planning to put up the tarp there or if he would be okay without the tarp.

          Mr. Aguiar responded he would be okay without the tarp.

Soria

·        He likes the pictures, but the City has guidelines and codes that they need to comply with and also neighbors’ concerns need to be taken under consideration. He suggested that Mr. Aguiar be allowed some time to finish cleaning up the property and then come back to the Planning Commission for a follow-up.

Director Kenney said the Planning Commission doesn’t necessarily have to make a decision tonight. If the Planning Commission wants to grant Mr. Aguilar more time, they could continue this item to either a date certain or a future meeting to be renoticed.

·        Asked Director Kenney what they could do about the neighbors’ concerns.

Director Kenney responded she did not have a list of exactly what the neighbors like or don’t like. She took an assessment of what was left to do according to the Code Enforcement Officer and brought it forward based on height and overall appearance. She added that when she made initial contact with the complaining parties, their overall impression of the yard was that there was way too much there, so with each step of improvement from Mr. Aguiar, there could be less objection from the neighbors.

·        He would like to give him Mr. Aguiar a six-month period to see what he could come up with and asked that staff contact the neighbors to see if they still have concerns.

Blevins

·        It seems to him that Mr. Aguiar has made some improvements and is working with the City, so he would like to see the City continue to work with him and give him a little bit more time.

·        Asked Director Kenney if the complaining party was notified about this meeting.

Director Kenney responded all the neighbors within 300 feet were sent a notice.

·        Asked whether the neighbors’ complaints were verbal or written.

Director Kenney responded they were written complaints.

·        Questioned why staff did not provide copies of the written complaints to the Planning Commission.

Staff replied that when someone submits citizens’ complaints to the City, they are kept confidential.

Greeley

·        Asked Mr. Aguiar if it was possible to lower the lanterns and the gate to accommodate the height limit.

Mr. Aguiar explained that if he cuts down the gate and the lanterns, it would cut down a lot of the detail and disgrace the view.

Bains

·        Asked Mr. Aguiar if he could make smaller lanterns.

Mr. Aguiar responded that it would not work. He added that the lanterns are not an eye sore. They stand about 10’ tall; they are aluminum, but will still last a lifetime.

Greeley

·        Questioned how tall the gate is.

Director Kenney replied eight feet (8’).

·        Asked Mr. Aguiar if he would paint it all one color.

Mr. Aguiar responded he plans to sandblast the whole thing and then paint it a sand color with maybe just a slightly different trim color.

·        Said the height issue would still have to be solved.

Chair Blevins mentioned that the height issue comes under the Conditional Use Permit if it was granted to him.

Staff clarified that since the dish was removed from the earth monument, they would just have to consider the gate and the lanterns.

Soria

·        He would like to bring this item back to the Planning Commission October 2010 to see what Mr. Aguiar has accomplished. He added that he has no problem with the height on the lanterns, but he would like Mr. Aguiar to lower the height of the gate.

Bains

·        He thinks the Planning Commission should grant Mr. Aguiar some time to comply just as it was done for Mr. Valencia and his tarp at the Neighborhood Church on Main Street. 

Motion by Commissioner Soria, seconded by Commissioner Greeley, to continue this item to the Planning Commission meeting of October 12, 2010, to grant Mr. Aguiar additional time to clean up his property. Motion carried 4-0 by the following vote:

AYES:                  Chair Blevins and Commissioners Bains, Greeley, and Soria

NOES:                  None

ABSENT:   None

Mr. Aguiar questioned if he had to apply for an electrical permit right now or wait until later.

Staff responded that he can wait until later as long as he does not use any electrical or staff can send the inspector to his property to look at the electrical.

Mr. Aguiar said he will contact Director Kenney next week to work that out.

REPORTS

Planning Commission

Bains

Nothing to report.

Greeley

Nothing to report.

Soria

·        Reported a street light out between 7th and 8th Streets, pole # 5352.

·        Thanked Chair Blevins for his serious dedication during the time he served on the Livingston Planning Commission.

Blevins

·        Thanked Director Kenney, Administrative Assistant Arredondo, and Assistant City Attorney Massey for the time working with them. He added that his term in the Planning Commission has ended and he has decided not to re-apply for another term.

City Staff

Community Development Director Kenney

·        Stated it has been a pleasure working with Chair Blevins and added that he is going to be greatly missed.

·        Mentioned that Super WalMart is still moving forward. Its representatives informed City staff that the store proposed for Atwater will not have any effect on the Livingston store.  Staff wanted to put some of those fears to rest.

Administrative Assistant Arredondo

·        Wished Chair Blevins well in his future endeavors.

Assistant City Attorney Massey

Nothing to report.

ADJOURNMENT

The regular meeting was adjourned by consensus at 7:52 p.m.

APPROVED:  April 13, 2010

_____________________________                 _______________________________

Chair, DAVID BLEVINS                                    Secretary of the Planning Commission,

                                                                   DONNA M. KENNEY

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2 thoughts on “MARCH 9, 2010

  1. Pingback: A Sad Announcement and A Planning Commission Agenda « Thegardeningsnail's Weblog (because not every critter is hiding under a rock…)

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