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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

March 24, 2004

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Stopper at 4:01 p.m.

ROLL CALL

Chairman Stopper; Commissioners Francis, Griffin, Hart, Savage, Bailey and Price

STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis, Assistant City Engineer Hoppe, Assistant Planner Sowers and Recording Secretary Baker

FLAG SALUTE

Commissioner Francis

MINUTES:

Chairman Stopper asked that the $15,000 on page 23 be changed to $50,000.

MOTION by Griffin, seconded by Hart and CARRIED unanimously that the Minutes of the March 10, 2004, meeting be APPROVED AS AMENDED.

7:00 P.M. SESSION

PUBLIC HEARING

ITEM NO. 1
PRJ03-00411 - LRP03-00013. APPLICANT: CITY OF FULLERTON

Staff report dated March 17, 2004, was presented pertaining to a request to pre-zone the 13-acre unincorporated county island (Somerset) to Planned Residential Development and establish a general plan designation of Greenbelt Concept in accordance with the Agreement between the County of Orange and the City of Fullerton for the Annexation of Unincorporated County Territories on property generally located on the west side of Beach Boulevard, south of Somerset Lane. (Categorically exempt under Section 15319 of CEQA Guidelines.)

Assistant Planner Sowers presented the staff report. The area is located between Beach Boulevard and Coyote Creek channel south of Somerset Drive. In 1998, 67 single-family units were built as part of a larger planned community, the majority of which is located in La Mirada. The area in the Fullerton sphere of influence is currently under the jurisdiction of the County of Orange, and is one of two remaining unincorporated islands.

The Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) requested that the City pursue consideration for annexation of this area following new legislation, effective January 1, 2001, which encouraged cities to annex parts of the county inefficiently serviced. Council initiated the annexation in August of 2003, and authorized the City Manager to enter into an agreement regarding the annexation. The annexation agreement was executed in January, 2004, and a subsequent community meeting was held, attended by LAFCO and City staff.

Staff recommended adoption of the Resolution with the recommended changes to the zoning ordinance and general plan. This item is exempt under CEQA Guidelines, and notices were sent to property owners within a 300-foot radius. Inquiries were received, but there was no direct support or opposition subsequent to the community meeting.

Commissioner Price asked for confirmation that the Commission would not be dealing with the annexation. Assistant Planner Sowers clarified that only the zone change and General Plan designation were the actions before the Commission.

Commissioner Savage questioned why the area was not being annexed to the City of La Mirada. Chief Planner Rosen told them that staff had numerous meetings with the City of La Mirada, who declined having this section annexed, due to the requirement for an act of the Legislature to change the county boundary, along with other issues.

Chairman Stopper asked for the timeline of this project. Assistant Planner Sowers reported that after Commission and Council approval, staff would make application in May to LAFCO and the annexation would proceed with a four-month processing time.

Commissioner Francis asked for clarification that complaints on the annexation could not be voted on, and should only be heard by the City Council. Assistant Planner Sowers clarified that because the Council began the annexation action, concerns with the annexation should be posed to the Council. However, because the LAFCO process did not have a protest component; the residents in attendance could speak to the Commission with their comments/concerns.

Commissioner Bailey asked if the island could be moved to Los Angeles County in the future. Chief Planner Rosen said that it would be highly unlikely after the annexation process was completed.

Public hearing opened, but there was no one present who wished to speak on this matter. Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Hart asked if the surrounding area was consistent with the project. Chief Planner Rosen explained that the Hawks Pointe development was zoned PRD, and had the same Greenbelt Concept General Plan designation with common areas, smaller lots and open space. He told her that the Commission was deciding whether or not this would be the appropriate zone for the area before it is annexed.

Commissioner Francis asked staff to explain the PRD zone for the benefit of the public. Assistant Planner Sowers explained that the Planned Residential Development zone was consistent with the development pattern, with traditionally smaller lots than a single family R-1 zone. The PRD zone specifically does not have a minimum lot size, and the streets are smaller and privately owned. They are private, sometimes gated communities with setbacks determined in the neighborhood as a whole. Staff recommended the PRD zone because it was consistent with the existing pattern of development.

The Commission had no further questions. Chairman Stopper thanked Assistant Planner Sowers for the presentation.

The title of Resolution No. PC-04-08 APPROVING a request to pre-zone the 13-acre unincorporated County island (Somerset) to PRD (Planned Residential Development) and establish a General Plan Designation of Greenbelt Concept in accordance with the agreement between the County of Orange and the City of Fullerton for the Annexation of Unincorporated County Territories, on property generally located on the west side of Beach Boulevard, south of Somerset Drive, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Francis, seconded by Commissioner Hart, and carried unanimously that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.

ITEM NO. 2
PRJ03-00440 LRP03-00014. APPLICANT: CITY OF FULLERTON

Staff report, dated March 17, 2004, was presented pertaining to a request to pre-zone the 16-acre unincorporated county island (Page Avenue) to R-1-15,000 and R-3 and establish a general plan designation of Low Density Residential and Medium Density Residential in accordance with the agreement between the County of Orange and the City of Fullerton for the Annexation of Unincorporated County Territories on property generally located on the west side of Brookhurst Road, north of Houston Avenue. (Categorically exempt under Section 15319 of CEQA Guidelines.)

Assistant Planner Sowers reported that this project was the last unincorporated small island within the City of Fullerton. It is a 16-acre site located between Baker Avenue and Houston Street, west of Brookhurst Road. LAFCO has also requested that this area be annexed. The 21 single-family and 18 multi-family units were built mostly in the 1950s. Council initiated the annexation in August of 2003, and has given the City Manager authorization to enter into the Agreement. A community meeting was held and residents comments were heard regarding the new infrastructure, lot size, and the effect of the annexation on the existing conditions. This area is also served by septic tanks and a private water company (Page Avenue Mutual Water Company). Grant money is being used to install a sewer main line on Page Avenue, and the water main is in the design phase. Residents can voluntarily connect to the sewer and water, when it becomes available. However, it is not required, and would be at the homeowners expense.

The pre-zone being recommended is R-1-15,000 and R-3, which is consistent with the surrounding area. The properties on Page are low density residential (single-family) and medium density on Houston (multi-family).

Staff recommended adoption of the Resolution with the recommended changes to the zoning ordinance and general plan. This item is exempt under CEQA Guidelines, and notices were sent to property owners within a 300-foot radius. No specific comments in support or opposition were received subsequent to the community meeting.

Commissioner Francis reiterated that the annexation issue would be decided by the City Council, and that the Planning Commission would only take action on the zoning issue and General Plan issues.

Commissioner Hart asked if the horse property would be changed. Assistant Planner Sowers answered that the Citys requirements regarding the required lot size for horses would apply. Existing conditions at the time of the annexation not in conformity with the Citys code would be permitted as non-conforming uses. Chief Planner Rosen stated that if the property owners decided to subdivide, they would then have to bring everything current to conform to City code.

At the request of Chairman Stopper, Assistant Planner Sowers described the sizes of various lots on the vicinity sketch.

Commissioner Savage asked what the feeling of the homeowners was at the community meetings. Assistant Planner Sowers replied that many homeowners stated that they bought their property with the intention of being able to subdivide under County zoning, and desired that option to remain.

Chairman Stopper asked Assistant Planner Sowers about the size of lots. She stated that the majority of the lots were 32,000 - 36,000 square feet on the north side. She mentioned that the properties to the north have access to Baker if they subdivided.

Commissioner Savage asked what the width of the lots were and if they could flag the lots. Sowers answered that they are approximately 100 to 110 feet wide and 325 feet deep. He was concerned about property owners wanting to subdivide and how access would be provided. Staff discussed the possibility of flag lots. Chief Planner Rosen stated that some might carry a joint access with a reciprocal easement. He stated that they could split the lots down the middle.

Commissioner Price asked if there was an impediment from changing the zone to R-1-20,000 eliminating the potential to subdivide. Chief Planner Rosen said that as long as the City allowed economic use of the property, there were no restrictions.

Commissioner Hart asked where the multi-family R-3 lots were located. Assistant Planner Sowers showed that they front on Houston Avenue. The Page lots would not be considered R-3, because they are single-family residences.

Commissioner Bailey asked if applying for a permit would change the use or affect the sale of the property, and if building another unit on the property or repairing the existing structure would change the use. Assistant Planner Sowers said that you cant expand a non-conformity.

Commissioner Savage asked if staff had looked at the alternative of zoning the area with a rural overlay. Staff said that some of the residents wanted curbs, gutters, streetlights and sidewalks, which a rural overlay would not allow. Chief Planner Rosen stated that the City could make those enhancements a part of the subdivision conditions, and was not intending to install them at this time. A rural overlay could be considered as an alternative, if requested by the residents.

Chairman Stopper discussed the configuration of the property, the septic systems and the utilities. Chief Planner Rosen said that historically it was a simpler process to annex, and some residents chose not to. Assistant Planner Sowers told the community that all homes in this area are served by septic systems. The block grant of $175,000 will be a main line only, with no service provided to the property owners. The residents are able to deal with the contractor personally to connect to their homes. There was a plan to install water main, meters and hydrants to upgrade the fire service to the area, but not until the annexation was complete.

Chairman Stopper asked if there was a timeline when property owners would have to connect to the newer sewer system, or could they choose to never connect. He also asked if it was an Artesian well. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe stated that the capacity to use septic tanks could diminish because after time the soil wont accept any more waste. He said that there was no timeline for when a property owner would need to connect to the sewer line, unless the Federal government mandates that everyone will have to connect to the sewer. He said that the water is pumped, not an Artesian well.

Chairman Stopper said that he was concerned that eventually everyone will get a substantial invoice to connect to water and sewer. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe told him that only if they subdivide would they have to connect to the sewer. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe said that the initial fee was $3,400, payable to the County Sanitation District. Assistant Planner Sowers stated that trash would continue to be collected by MG Disposal, Edison will continue to provide electrical power, and Adelphia cable will continue the cable services.

Commissioner Savage asked how the water bill would be affected if residents switch over to the City system. Assistant Planner Sowers stated that the advantage of the mutual water company is the low rate. Residents are presently able to irrigate a 30,000 square-foot lot for $40 a month.

Commissioner Bailey asked if the City would send water bill insert information to the property owners, and Assistant Planner Sowers said this was possible.

Commissioner Griffin asked Assistant City Engineer Hoppe if the Page Avenue Mutual Water Company was required to meet the same water quality standards as the City. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe stated that they are required to submit a water quality report every year and they have met those standards so far.

Public hearing opened

Connie Richardson, 1900 Page Avenue, thanked the Chairman and Commissioner Savage, who expressed concern for residents feelings. She told the Commission that she was attracted to this rural area. She understood that some areas were divided in the past, and were required to (go with the City) and be annexed. She didnt agree with Assistant Planner Sowers, and felt there was a lot of opposition from homeowners who did not want to be taken over by the City. She asked what would prevent the City from demanding residents to connect to the water system, once the annexation is completed. She understood it was $15,000 to $18,000 to connect to the Citys water line. She felt it would be a hardship for many residents. She had questioned residents with large lots in other areas that pay $350 a month for water service. She wanted to continue with large single-family lots.

Jim Konopisos, 1900 Page Avenue, has been the President of the Page Avenue Mutual Water Company for 16 years. Hes interested in maintaining what they currently have. He currently has a kennel license for up to 20 dogs. He understood that if he were to subdivide, it would change. Chief Planner Rosen stated that this legal non-conforming use would continue, however, they couldnt expand the use. If it is allowed by the County, it will continue to be allowed, and the County would continue to inspect and control licensing, etc. Mr. Konopisos discussed the backflow inspection on the well, and the recent request by the City to move it 20 feet. He was concerned with the cost incurred. He also asked about parking restrictions from 2 5 a.m. and Assistant City Engineer Hoppe stated that it would begin to be enforced after the annexation. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe said that the streets will be maintained by the City, and the parking would be under the jurisdiction of the police department.

Commissioner Savage asked about the cleanliness of the well water, in spite of the septic tanks leaching into the ground soil. Mr. Konopisos stated that it didnt need to be filtered and it was monitored monthly. He concurred with Ms. Sowers that he pays $40 a month for water service and the smaller lots pay about $27. Mr. Konopisos stated that he was thankful for a locator who found old water lines that he was not aware of.

Commissioner Bailey asked how many homes could be serviced. Mr. Konopisos stated that he could double the current output. He has recently rebuilt the well and his only concern was the efficiency of the old pipes. Hes concerned that construction could jar the corrosion loose and plug up on the south side of Page.

Assistant City Engineer Hoppe stated that if this island was annexed to the City, the water company would be required to become part of the underground service alert. As the operator, Mr. Konopisos would be required to mark the water lines in the future.

Connie Richardson clarified that even though she and her husband, Mr. Konopisos, have a kennel license for up to 20 dogs, they currently only have two dogs.

Chairman Stopper asked if the City would be interested in using this well in the future. City Engineer Hoppe said that the City currently has six wells in the water system and they are not considering this well, because it does not meet City standards without retrofitting.

Commissioner Hart asked if a new owner could use Mr. Konoposis property as a kennel. Chief Planner Rosen confirmed that legal non-conforming use does not go away as property is sold, and is transferable.

Commissioner Francis reiterated that the Commission doesnt have the authority to deny or proceed with the annex, just changing the zone.

David Medina, 1871 Page Avenue, owns a large lot on the lower side. He asked why there wasnt sufficient funding to connect to the sewer main. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe stated that the City didnt have sufficient grant funds to cover the change order needed to connect all residents, and he didnt want to delay the project because the City is required to have the project completed and paid by June. The contractor wanted an additional 20 days to install all of the laterals at $3,000 each. He stated that the wyes will be connected close to the center of the lot and they would be marked. He encouraged residents to deal directly with the contractor for lateral connections to their property, and the City is allowing for that. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe added that the County would allow the contractor to install laterals without a separate permit fee to the property owners.

Mr. Medina was concerned that the grade and drop of the sewer lines would interfere with future water lines. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe stated that the sewer lines are deeper than water lines. He said that the water lines are 30 -36 deep and the sewer is 8 ft. deep and he doesnt anticipate conflicts. Mr. Medina also asked, if he subdivided, would he be required to connect with the City water, or could he continue to use the private water company.

Chairman Stopper stated that the staff was being asked to determine too many potential scenarios. Chairman Stopper told the residents that in his past experience he has found that City staff will work diligently to assist the residents with any questions or needs. He asked the residents to contact Mr. Hoppe if theyre interested in contacting the contractor. Mr. Medina also asked if 15,000 was the smallest size staff was recommending, because he was interested in 10,000 or less square feet. He was hoping to add two additional homes. Staff informed him that this was the appropriate place to discuss the zoning.

Theresa Arellano, lives next door to Mr. Medina. She felt that by being annexed they will lose their country feel. She felt that eventually they will have to connect to the sewer. She asked what they would have to do with septic tanks. She agreed that 10,000 square feet would be a better size. She hoped the cost to connect to the sewer would be diminished. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe stated that he didnt know if the Health Department required abandoning the septic tank, but he would look into it. He stated that if they did subdivide the land, the code required that the septic tank be removed. If they dont subdivide, he didnt know if they could connect to the sewer without removing the septic tank, but he would investigate the matter further.

Commissioner Bailey stated that they would not lose the country feel, unless the neighbors decide to subdivide. He asked staff if residents could subdivide larger than 15,000 if they desired. Chief Planner Rosen answered that as long as the minimum lot size of 15,000 square feet was maintained, lots can be larger.

Ms. Arellano asked if she could come and petition later for 10,000 sq. ft. Chief Planner Rosen said that staff would have to look at the request in conjunction with the surrounding properties and a fee would be required to process the application.

Chairman Stopper stated that the surrounding property had mixed zoning requirements.

Commissioner Francis asked what the consensus from the community meeting was. Staff originally suggested R-1-20,000 zoning. Comments at the meeting indicated that R-1-15,000 would retain the desired potential to subdivide in the future, and it also was most consistent with the current County zoning.

Raul Ravello, 1810 W. Page Avenue, said he also felt that they would lose the country feeling. He didnt want curbs and sidewalks because of their horses. Chief Planner Rosen reiterated that there are no plans for the City to install curbs, sidewalks. If the community wished, curbs, gutters and sidewalks could be required as a subdivision condition.

Commissioner Griffin asked if the entire area would be required to upgrade to curbs, gutters and sidewalks if one property subdivides. Chief Planner Rosen said that one subdivision would not trigger upgrades to the entire area, however, there could be issues with Engineering if there was a mid-block improvement. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe noted that funds were not available for curbs, gutters and sidewalks. Mr. Ravello also asked why the sewer was being connected now, and why wasnt it more affordable to hookup. Commissioner Bailey responded that the reason its being installed now was because grant monies cover the cost of the main.

Commissioner Francis stated that the majority of the cost for hookup was the County fees and only some city fees. He gave an example of a former residence where his septic tank failed and it was convenient to hookup to sewer lines that were already installed.

Assistant City Engineer Assistant City Engineer Hoppe said that it is a significant County connection fee of $3,400 and another cost to install the lateral. The proposal was $3,000 for each lateral from the main to the property line, which is about 15 feet. Mr. Hoppe reminded the residents what a benefit it will be to connect to in the future when septic tanks fail and would cost $10,000 to rebuild.

Commissioner Francis suggested that if residents did subdivide, the septic tanks may not handle multiple houses and the City would require connection to the sewer.

Commissioner Bailey asked if the residents would have to pay to have a sewer system installed if this grant money wasnt used. He also asked if they could hire their own contractor to install the lateral. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe explained that they would have to possibly form an assessment district, and the property owners would have to pay to have the line installed. The City could not install the line, because there was no funding available. The County has allowed the current contractor to install laterals for residents at their cost under the existing City permit. Mr. Ravello asked why the grant money didnt include the laterals in the beginning. Mr. Hoppe said that the grant money of $175,000 could have covered the laterals if they were $1,000 instead of $3,000. There was also a potential for liability if the City constructed the lateral. Residents would have to sign waivers to release the liability, per the City Attorney.

Chief Planner Rosen asked the Chairman to request future concerns with the lateral installation be directed to Engineering.

Mr. Ravello stated that it was not possible for him to subdivide.

David Cornwell lives next door to project. He was concerned that someone could request a rezone and build a 25-unit apartment building. Chairman Stopper told him that they would have to come go through the Commission and request it.

David Cornwell asked if the City could guarantee that existing conditions would be allowed to continue. Chief Planner Rosen stated that a survey of unusual characteristics would be taken, and uses would be documented and allowed to continue.

Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Francis reminded the residents that they would have a forum with the City Council on May 18, at 7:30.

Chief Planner Rosen said that the Council had already started the annexation process, and reminded the Commission and the community that the current application addressed the zoning and General Plan designation. Council approved the resolutions of intent to annex, and he felt it is unlikely they would undo the annexation, but that is the forum where residents could address it.

Commissioner Francis asked if it was feasible for a 300 ft. long sewer line to go from the back of the lot to the sewer. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe said that they put it as deep as they could, connect to the downstream end, and after the pad it can go to 1/8 per foot, with approval of the Building Official.

Commissioner Price felt that the Commission should accept the staff recommendation of R-1-15,000, because smaller zoning (R-1-10,000) creates greater density and destroys the semi-rural area.

Commissioner Bailey agreed with Commissioner Price to fit this into the community so that it doesnt change the look drastically. He accepted staffs recommendation.

Commissioner Hart said that she has horses and understands property owners concerns. She felt that the 15,000 was a good compromise, especially if it is next to horse property.

Commissioner Griffin commended staff for answering so many questions. He was thankful for the suggestion of the survey of non-conforming uses.

The title of Resolution No. PC-04-09 RECOMMENDING to the City Council approval of a request to pre-zone the 16-acre unincorporated county island (Page Avenue) to R-1-15,000 and R-3 and establish a General Plan designation of low density residential and medium density residential in accordance with the Agreement between the County of Orange and the City of Fullerton for Annexation of Unincorporated County Territories, on property generally located on the west side of Brookhurst Road, north of Houston Avenue, was approved and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Savage and seconded by Commissioner Francis and CARRIED unanimously that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.

OTHER MATTERS

  1. COMMISSION/STAFF COMMUNICATION

    Chief Planner Rosen stated that there were no items. Commissioner Savage wanted to mention the damage to the corner of the Tuscany Club building on Commonwealth and Harbor. He recommended painting the curb to help it to stand out. Also, he was asked by a contractor to mention the difficulty of not being able to have inspections because of Friday closures. Chief Planner Rosen stated that staff inspects on Fridays and Saturdays.

    Commissioner Francis was concerned that the City website doesnt have current agendas posted. Chief Planner Rosen said that staff is aware of the problem and is working with the contractor to get it resolved.

  2. REVIEW OF COUNCIL ACTIONS

    Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief report on recent City Council meetings

  3. PUBLIC COMMENTS

    There was no one present who wished to speak on any matter within the Commissions jurisdiction.

  4. AGENDA FORECAST

    The next meeting of the Fullerton Planning Commission will be April 14, 2004, at 4 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:51 p.m.

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