A decision on a proposed project that would add 119 single-family homes adjacent to Highway 101 about a quarter-mile south of Clark Avenue was continued last week by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors so the developer can move the secondary access route.
The County Planning Commission had forwarded the project to the supervisors with a recommendation to deny the housing development proposed for the site identified as Key Site 3 in the Orcutt Community Plan.
But it appeared the board was leaning toward approving the project if owner and developer Matt Mansi can obtain an easement to use Oakbrook Lane as the secondary access rather than Chancellor Street.
The company already owns an access easement on Chancellor Street, but Mansi had previously said he was willing to move the secondary access to Oakbrook Lane.
Supervisors voted unanimously Oct. 12 to continue the hearing to an unspecified date to accommodate the access change, but they pulled back on also having Mansi move a separate high-density project to another location.
Moving the multifamily development that’s already approved for the center of the single-family homes, and allowed for in the Orcutt Community Plan, was included in Board Chairman and 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson’s initial motion that was seconded by 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino.
“The Orcutt Community Plan kicked off in 1997,” Nelson said. “A lot’s changed since then. Things that we know now in planning have evolved significantly in 25 years.”
Nelson, whose district includes the project site, said the board needs to deal with things as they are today, not as they were back then.
“Anybody who drives past there knows that [multifamily housing] doesn’t fit there,” Lavagnino said, adding he believes the site does need to be developed.
“That piece of property is going to change the landscape of Orcutt and how it’s going to look forever,” he said. “So it has to be done right.”
Nelson and Lavagnino agreed to grant the continuance for only the access change after other supervisors and the Planning and Development Department staff raised concerns about the ability to transfer the high-density development to another site.
Known as the SB Clark LLC project, the development by affiliate Aldersgate Home would place 119 one- and two-story single-family homes on 42 acres surrounding 160 previously approved townhomes on 8 acres that were rezoned for high density by supervisors in 2009.
Although some General Plan amendments requested for the single-family housing project along with some infrastructure improvements are needed for the townhome development, it was not part of the plan before the board Tuesday.
In addition to the housing development, the project would include about 22 acres of private open space and 91 acres of public open space with trails connecting to a county-owned open space to the south.
Half a dozen nearby residents spoke against the project, citing the impact of 275 additional residences, the inability of Chancellor Road to handle the increased traffic, the aesthetic impact of two-story homes and the nuisance and danger of the main access road next to the north side of Sunny Hills Mobile Home Community and squeezed between the park and Highway 101 on the east.
Reasons the Planning Commission cited for recommending denial of the project included that it is not consistent with the surrounding area and not compatible with the community, the developer had not established the secondary access road could support the project’s impacts and the developer did not have a maintenance agreement for that road.
The commission also wanted to see a larger portion of the site developed at a lower density by reducing the size of the public open space parcel.
Mansi, who said he and his father had been working to come up with an acceptable project since 2003, disagreed with the Planning Commission’s findings, saying they weren’t valid and supportable.
“We believe in this project,” Mansi said. “We believe it’s a good project — that it’s actually a really good project — and that’s the right property for this kind of development.”