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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

May 12, 2004

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Stopper at 4:00 p.m.

ROLL CALL

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

ABSENT: Bailey

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

FLAG SALUTE:

Commissioner Savage

MINUTES:

MOTION by Commissioner Griffin, seconded by Commissioner Hart and CARRIED by a 6-0 vote, with Commissioner Price abstaining, that the Minutes of April 14, 2004, be APPROVED AS WRITTEN.

MOTION by Commissioner Price seconded by Commissioner Savage and CARRIED by a 6-0 vote, with Commissioner Francis abstaining, that the Minutes of April 28, 2004 be APPROVED as WRITTEN

4:00 P.M. SESSION

PUBLIC HEARING

ITEM NO. 1
PRJ04-00119 SUB04-00002. APPLICANTS AND PROPERTY OWNERS: ELAINE M. REDFIELD AND CRAIG LA MUNYON

Staff report dated May 5, 2004, was presented pertaining to a request to demolish an existing restaurant and market and construct a 14,820-square-foot, drive-through pharmacy on a 2.8-acre parcel, on property located at 1250 East Chapman Avenue (southeast corner of Chapman and Raymond Avenues) (C-2 zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15332 of CEQA Guidelines) (Continued from April 28, 2004).

Senior Planner Melanie Mullis stated that the 2.8-acre site was currently zoned C-2 and surrounded by various commercial, office and multi-family zoning. There is currently an existing 30,000 square-foot grocery store and a 6,000-square-foot restaurant on the property. Aerial photos, photos of the project site, and site plans were displayed. An Orange County Flood Control easement runs through the property. There is access to the site from Raymond, Chapman and Wilshire Avenues, and a shared parking agreement exists with the property owner to the south. The proposed site plan includes shared parking, as noted on the plan.

There will be enhanced landscaping of approximately 12 to 20 feet wide across the entire frontage of Chapman Avenue, and approximately 30 feet wide along Raymond Avenue. Pedestrian access is proposed from the bus turnout and deceleration lane on Chapman Avenue. The applicant will provide a drive-through and, as a condition of approval, they will be expanding a plaza area near the entrance to the building. There will be only one entry, with a northwest orientation toward Chapman Avenue.

The RDRC requested that the applicant provide enhanced landscaping to screen the building to the south, and the eastern elevation at the rear of the building. The proposed elevations originally were a Craftsman style, and were later modified to a Spanish mission style (shown on elevations), with a colonnade across the north and west sides of the building. The RDRC was also concerned with the building being more pedestrian visible/accessible. They felt that the windows under the colonnade should be lowered to the top of the CMU; the windows are currently eight feet in height.

Senior Planner Mullis told the Commission that the applicant had revised the east elevation and staff had not had a chance to review their changes, because this is the first time they had seen it. The RDRC had recommended that staff review it and determine whether to send it back to the RDRC or not. The floor plan was standard, and the RDRC was concerned with the corporate architecture of the structure, which was similar to their concerns with the CVS Pharmacy. After several meetings, the RDRC recommended approval with the conditions included in the staff report, particularly concerning the eastern elevation, pedestrian crossing, and lowering the windows.

Senior Planner Mullis stated that staff had received a few phone calls after a newspaper article was printed regarding the project. One resident was concerned because she felt the previous pharmacy was not successful. The other concern was building in the middle of the site, which did not allow for flexibility for the future and the corporate architecture of the building.

Commissioner Savage asked to have the lease line defined and also wanted a clarification that Walgreens was not taking the entire property. Senior Planner Mullis confirmed that Walgreens agreement was to lease the area between Raymond Avenue and the lease line shown in the site plan, and that they were not taking the entire property.

Public hearing opened.

Steven Skolnik, municipal lawyer for Evergreen Devco, applicant for the project, explained that he had been the City Attorney for the City of Santa Fe Springs since 1986. He felt that this was a terrific project for Fullerton, the project was completely compliant in zoning, development standards, and that it met or exceeded code requirements. He thought that the landscaping and setbacks were far beyond what is required by the City.

Mr. Skolnik wanted the Planning Commission to realize that Walgreens and Evergreen Devco had spent six months making numerous changes and putting much effort into the project. The applicant, staff and RDRC were almost in complete agreement, except for a few remaining issues, which were more operational than aesthetic.

Mr. Skolnik distributed copies of the two concerns that Evergreen Devco had with the conditions of approval

Luke Giovanardi, Evergreen Devco, provided an exhibit for the Commission. He explained that the applicant was proposing a slight change to the language in the condition stated in Item 2.a. They would like to provide a pedestrian element with a seating area, including planters, benches and decorative elements in the pavement. The original idea was to provide a seating area near the entrance of the building. After further consideration, the applicant believed that a better location would be across the drive aisle close to the walkway, closer to the path of pedestrian travel. Walgreens was concerned that locating the seating area in front of the building would require using the handicapped spaces in front of the entrance. Also, seating in front of the entrance would not be conducive to pedestrian safety; it could be an obstacle to emergency personnel. Mr. Giovanardi felt it was in the best interest to have handicapped stalls closest to the entrance, and he was also concerned with potential littering and smoking near the entrance.

Mr. Skolnik discussed staffs desire to have the elevations enhanced on the east side. He stated that there was not much more the applicant could do because of the loading docks located on the eastern side of the building. In addition, there will be a large planter along the street on that part of the site to provide substantial screening.

Mr. Giovanardi talked about the original elevations presented. He stated that the applicant wanted to match the theme so the colors were changed to make the building more appealing. He provided samples on a materials board.

Mr. Skolnik stated that the windows were the most significant change. He said that it was a simple fact that Walgreens would not build a store with windows installed as low as three feet. He explained that they use the interior walls for inventory storage and it was an operational issue; it would change the economics of the store as well as eliminating substantial storage. Mr. Skolnik also stated that it was a security issue, and the applicant was also concerned about keeping the windows clean. He understood that the objective was to make it pedestrian friendly but respectfully requested the deletion of that requirement.

Mr. Skolnik wanted to correct a misunderstanding that might have inadvertently been created. The previous plan had suggested wrought iron over the windows, but the applicant had never intended to install them. He felt it does not work from a design standpoint to have it in that location and that it looks like barred windows.

Mr. Skolnik stated that he and the applicant hoped for an approval because the financing was already locked in and they need Planning Commission approval to take to the bank. There had already been an extension granted. After six months of working on the design, they felt that they have provided a product everyone would be pleased with. Mr. Skolnik added that Walgreens would provide a convenience for the community.

Commissioner Savage questioned the tower in the front of the building. Mr. Giovanardi explained that it is a large open space on the second floor and the back wall will display a lighted corporate logo, which is the mortar and pestle. Mr. Giovanardi said that it was not accessible and would have a floor, but is not an office space and would not be used for storage.

Mr. Giovanardi felt that the current design was better looking design than lower windows with advertising posters.

Commissioner Savage asked if the signage behind the window was discussed with the RDRC, and if it met the signage requirements. Mr. Giovanardi stated that there would be separate permits and approvals for the signage.

Commissioner Savage was concerned about security, and vagrants sleeping on the benches. It was his desire that it be people friendly.

Mr. Giovanardi discussed the type of seating and that he also was considering that people would congregrate. He felt that they have made every effort to make it pedestrian friendly. He thought it would be beneficial for the pedestrians to have the seating closer to Chapman Avenue, which would also be easily accessible and used more often.

Commissioner Price asked if the developer was paying for the bus right-turn pocket. Mr. Giovanardi answered affirmatively.

Commissioner Hart asked how many benches were going to be provided. Mr. Giovanardi stated that there was no defined requirement. The intent is to install two or three benches (uncovered) and landscape planters. Mr. Giovanardi felt that vagrants would use an uncovered bench less often.

Chief Planner Rosen said that staff did not envision benches, and seat walls would be sufficient. He was thinking about the long-term perspective because Walgreens may not be there forever, and staff did not want to preclude future use of the building. He was thinking ahead for a long-term use of the building of about 50 years.

Commissioner Griffin asked if the east elevation was redesigned based on the conditions given by the RDRC and, if the windows would be installed at a higher level, would the applicant be willing to go ahead. Mr. Giovanardi answered affirmatively to all questions.

Chairman Stopper asked what the dimensions were on the windows on the west and north views on proposed elevations. Mr. Giovanardi stated that the windows start at 8 ft. to 13 ft. in height.

Lena Maddox, 235 N. Stanford, resides one block away from the site. She patronizes the Spanish market, Nikos and Albertsons. She liked the convenience because she cannot drive. She also stated that she has encountered many transients in the area and did not feel secure therefore, she disagreed with providing convenience benches. She stated that there already was a Walgreens on Commonwealth and Raymond, and a Sav-on Drug Store on State College and Chapman. She was also concerned about people smoking, littering and sleeping on the site. She didnt feel that a drive-through was necessary.

Mr. Skolnik answered that the project qualifies as a permitted use in the zone. He explained that the markets are on a month-to-month lease. Further, the restaurant owner recently passed away and his widow is burdened with running it. It was the property owners decision to sell and they are getting paid a substantial amount for the property.

Russell Perkins, Evergreen Devco, stated that the current Walgreens express store at Raymond/Commonwealth was an experimental store. It provided mostly pharmaceutical products and wasnt as successful as expected. It will be closed once the new facility is operational.

Commissioner Savage asked staff their opinion of moving the pedestrian-friendly area from in front of the store to the street.

Chief Planner Rosen was aware of objections of the lowering of the windows raised at the RDRC. However, he was aware of the relocation of the seating area. He stated that his preference was to have it located adjacent to the building, but that staff would accept the modifications. He also discussed the display windows and the architecture discussed in the staff report. He was concerned with the aesthetics and the long-term use of the building. He told the Planning Commission that they can decide if it is appropriate. He reminded them that they cannot exceed the sign requirements.

Commissioner Savage said that he was comfortable with eliminating the RDRC from reviewing the elevation. Chief Planner Rosen said that some members of the RDRC were strong in their desire to review it again. Mr. Rosen stated that staff would look at all the materials presented and if the staff and applicant come to an agreement, it will not be referred back to the RDRC.

Commissioner Savage said that he was comfortable with staff making decisions.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that unless there were inconsistencies or staff was uncertain about something it was standard procedure that items with conditions went before the RDRC again. He stated that if there were inconsistencies or uncertainties, then staff would refer it back to the RDRC.

Chairman Stopper asked if there were any other conditions to which the applicant objected, and Mr. Skolnik said there were none.

Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Griffin felt that the east elevation was not officially enhanced and the Commission was reviewing a drawing that staff had not reviewed. He suggested on Page 5, #3 that Item b and Item c be removed, leaving Item a and the last paragraph as is. If staff was not satisfied with the final elevation, or if they felt the RDRCs concerns were not satisfied, they would go back to the RDRC. He had no problem with the language proposed by the applicant in the handout.

Commissioner Francis was familiar with the area. He felt it was a great project, would be good for that part of Fullerton, and supported it. He did not think sending it again to the RDRC was necessary, because the issues were minor and could be resolved.

Commissioner Price was in agreement with Commissioner Francis to accept what the developer has proposed, whether or not the east elevation was enhanced. He thought that it did not look like they can do much more. He suggested retaining the last portion of Item 3, and all of 3 a. The developer had been before the RDRC three times already and had worked extensively. He thought that the project looked great, and the developer should not be subjected to another RDRC review. He felt is has already been well reviewed.

Commissioner Griffin did not want to slow down the project. The east elevation displayed had been enhanced from the original elevation. Item 3.a. was architecturally enhanced from the original submittal. He felt that the original elevation was plain and that the current elevation looked great.

Commissioner Savage also supported the project. He felt that it was the first major improvement in years. He concurred with the other commissioners.

Commissioner Hart said that after reviewing conditions and hearing what the other commissioners said, she concurred. She did not have a problem with Item 3. She felt it was a wonderful addition and did not feel it should go back to the RDRC. She supported the project.

Chairman Stopper felt it was time for redevelopment to occur on that corner. He complimented Walgreens for taking on this issue. The RDRC had unanimous supported the project with a few conditions, and they had not been as supportive on other projects. He supported the changes to both conditions.

The title of Resolution No. PC-04-18 APPROVING a request to demolish an existing restaurant and market and a site plan to construct a 14,820-square-foot, drive-through pharmacy on a 2.8-acre parcel on property located at 1250 East Chapman Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Francis, seconded by Commissioner Hart, and CARRIED unanimously that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED, accepting the applicants wording for Item 2.a. and also Item 3, deleting Item 3 b. and c. as presented and modifying 3 a. by adding the words as shown in the elevations presented to the Planning Commission on May 12, 2004.

  1. CLARIFICATION OF ITEM NO. 4 OF RESOLUTION NO. PC-04-10 REGARDING PRJ04-00119 SUB04-00002. APPLICANTS AND PROPERTY OWNERS: ELAINE M. REDFIELD AND CRAIG LA MUNYON.

    Chief Planner Rosen requested to seek Planning Commission clarification of a condition of approval for a proposed abandonment at Marelen and Sunnycrest. At a previous meeting, the Commission requested that a condition be added to include language dealing with the additional area being provided to the properties--if it would allow further subdivision of the properties. Staff had done some calculations and Mr. Rosen explained the results. The letter from staff described in detail the acreage and square footage being added to the property.

    Chief Planner Rosen pointed out the language that staff had developed for the condition to be added to the abandonment going to City Council. The condition going before the City Council would not preclude development or improvements on the abandoned area. The area abandoned could facilitate further subdivision of these properties, but would not count towards the required lot area of any future subdivision. The areas are primarily sloped, however, the property owner could put improvements there in the future. He wanted the Commission to be aware of that and be in concurrence.

    Chairman Stopper asked if the entire area was zoned R-1-10,000. Chief Planner Rosen answered affirmatively.

    Commissioner Hart asked if it was fair to the other property owners by adding value to one parcel. She asked if the City could give the property owner an option to buy the property. Chief Planner Rosen answered that street easements could not be sold.

    Assistant City Engineer Hoppe explained that a quit claim is based on what you can do with the land, and what value the land has. This would relieve the City of the burden and long-term maintenance. The property values will be reassessed and a portion of the property value would come back to the City.

    Chairman Stopper felt that the release from easement provided more opportunity for the property owner, than if he was under the easement. He wanted to make sure that the Commission was not giving the property owner more rights to subdivide more than they had previously.

    Commissioner Griffin felt that staffs chart needed clarification. He wanted to make sure that if the property owner was able to divide the property into two lots before the abandonment, he wanted to make sure that they would only be able to subdivide into two lots after the abandonment. Chief Planner Rosen confirmed Commissioner Griffins statement.

    Chairman Stopper felt that the property owner should stick with the same subdivision benefit as before they got the additional land.

    Commissioner Savage asked about the wording in the staff report. He asked staff if the wording was consistent with what would be presented to the City Council. Chief Planner Rosen stated that it will be limiting the number of lots under the subdivision prior to the abandonment: Lot #9 could become two lots, Lot #1 could not be subdivided, and the third lot could be divided into three lots.

    Commissioner Hart asked if the property owners would be allowed to make improvements on the abandoned portion, or if there would be any restrictions. Staff answered that they would be able to make the same improvements to their property that they are able to do currently.

    The Commission was in consensus with staffs presentation and that the intent of the commission was understood.

  2. COMMISSION/STAFF COMMUNICATION

    Chief Planner Rosen informed the Commission that there had been considerable discussion about the City Council reviewing the process of changing the commissions, boards and committees. City Council has deferred any action to July. They have asked each commission, board or committee to review the report given. Staff will be presenting the report to the Planning Commission at the next meeting, and the Commission will be given a chance to respond.

    Chairman Stopper stated that Councilmember Nelson called and Chairman Stopper felt that he could not speak for the whole Commission, and took a neutral position.

    Commissioner Francis understood that Council would be reducing the size of committees. He agreed to that and also to Council appointing committee members themselves. He felt the Council only wanted input. Chief Planner Rosen will present the report given to the City Council. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe discussed a detailed verbatim transcript listened to by City staff on May 12 and the action was to seek input on the size and which commission, committee or board would exist and the job definition.

    The City Clerk and City Manager will be sending out a letter for direct comments.

    Commissioner Savage asked if this fell under the purview of the Planning Commission bylaws. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe said that he did not know if it was in their purview, however, they have gotten direction from the City Council to respond. Chairman Stopper stated that there was an open door asking for their participation, individually and as a group.

  3. REVIEW OF COUNCIL ACTIONS

    Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief update on recent City Council meetings.

  4. PUBLIC COMMENTS

    There was no one from the public who wished to speak.

  5. AGENDA FORECAST

    The next meeting of the Fullerton Planning Commission will be May 24, 2004, at 7:00 p.m.

    Chairman Stopper asked if the Planning Commission would consider looking at the downtown area as it exists today and how it is evolving. He had met with City Council members and there was interest in a workshop about Revisioning Downtown Fullerton. It would involve the City Council, Planning Commission, RDRC and the Transportation Commission collecting all their ideas at the workshop. The Planning Commission was in agreement, Chairman Stopper asked staff to put it on an upcoming agenda to discuss it.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:40 p.m.

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