Aspects of the much-awaited Enos Ranchos project came before the Santa Maria Planning Commission on Wednesday night.

The commission’s decisions allowed the developer to move forward with its plan to build a large sign tower near Highway 101 and further subdivide a portion of the 113-acre multiuse development that will have residential and commercial components, including Costco, Lowe's, and other businesses and restaurants.

The developer, NKT Commercial, wants to construct a 75-foot-tall, four-sided freeway tower on a portion of the development referred to as Bradley East, at the northwest corner of Betteravia Road and Highway 101 on a five-acre parcel that also will house a planned Coast Hills Credit Union regional office building.

“The freeway tower will identify tenants from the Enos Ranchos commercial center,” said Neda Zayer, Santa Maria Planning Division’s principal planner.

The sign will mimic the design of much of the Enos Ranchos project. Individual tenant signs will be internally illuminated and be placed on all four sides of the tower.

“This tower is a little bit unique in comparison to the other (sign) towers. The other towers have more of a Mission-style look to them than this proposed tower,” Zayer said. “This will be prominent in its location; it will be close to the Highway 101 offramp.”

Zayer said city officials and NKT Commercial went back and forth to the drawing board more than a dozen times before they agreed upon a design they thought would look good and meets every stakeholder’s desire.

The Planning Commission voted 3-1 to approve the Enos Ranchos Freeway Tower Sign Planned Development Permit on Wednesday night.

Of the nods to support the measure, some may have been made with reservations.

“I think it is too big. It stands out like a sore thumb. But I really appreciate the hard work that everyone has done to figure this thing out,” Commissioner Adrian Andrade said. “I am going to support it. I think this is the best job we could do.”

Commissioner Robert Dickerson disagreed. He was the lone dissenter.

“I am not sure we have done the best we can with this,” he said. “I am concerned with the size of it. This thing, where it is at, will be very noticeable to our community.”

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Planning Commission Chairwoman Maribel Hernandez recused herself from the discussion and vote because she works with the developer.

The sign tower is important to the project, not just for the obvious advertising purpose.

“The tenants don’t open until the freeway tower is operational,” Nick Tompkins, of NKT Commercial, said.

Also on Wednesday, the commission unanimously approved dividing the lot, known as Bradley West into five different lots.

Bradley West, when finished, will have a large row of commercial spaces with four stand-alone buildings, including Buffalo Wild Wings and Chick-fil-A.

The four planned stand-alone businesses now will stand on their own lot, with the large commercial row building on its own lot.

NKT Commercial requested the subdivision to be able to sell the large parcel to Paynter Realty. The change will not alter how the property will be used.

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.

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City Government Reporter