A gas station proposed for the southeast corner of Lakeview and Orcutt roads got the green light this week from the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission when it denied appeals of the project in a continued hearing.

Commissioners unanimously rejected the appeals filed by Far Western Liquor Inc. and PR Investments LLC over a development plan and minor use permit granted by the planning director for the Orcutt Fueling Center.

The decision came after considerable time was spent wrangling over conditions for moving utilities underground and the impact the project would have on the roadway, which also involved confusion over whether Lakeview Road had been reclassified from a secondary to a primary roadway.

Commissioners first heard the appeal in July, when it was continued to September, then continued again to this week.

Fifth District Commissioner Dan Blough wasn’t happy with some of the traffic mitigation measures, including striping the intersection to keep vehicles from blocking it and signs prohibiting left turns from Orcutt Road during peak traffic periods.

“This is the worst intersection I have to deal with,” Blough said, later adding, “I’m not in the least bit interested in creating a traffic situation that contributes to road rage.”

But he noted he was willing to accept the mitigation measures if they were part of the conditions of approval.

“For me, to deny this project would be tantamount to a ‘taking,’” he said.

At least 20 residents sent letters opposing the project, and two people spoke against it during the hearing Wednesday, focusing primarily on increased traffic at the intersection they described as dangerous as well as along Lakeview Road.

Todd Wilson said the “mitigation [measures] adds to existing chaos and is not adequate. This intersection is flat-our dangerous.”

He cited statics that included 18 crashes and six injuries and fatalities at that location.

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“Please don’t put the community unnecessarily at risk,” Wilson said.

Paul Ollice said there are multiple gas stations in the area, including a Chevron station three-quarters of a mile away.

“Just because it was a gas station doesn’t mean it should return [to] a gas station,” Ollice said.

He also said if big rigs up to 80,000 pounds are allowed to travel Lakeview Road, the roadbed should be deepened to handle the load.

“No one’s trying to stop growth,” Ollice said. “We’re just saying it’s just not the right project for this corner.”

Three levels of government — the city of Santa Maria, the county and the state — have jurisdictions that meet at the complex intersection of Lakeview Road, Orcutt Road, Highway 135 and Skyway Drive.

County policies require new projects to put utilities underground, and applicants Feras Mawas and Fadel Lama had intended to do that along the frontage of the property, then under Orcutt Road and adjacent Highway 135 to a pole on Skyway Drive.

But email exchanges between Caltrans, Frontier Communications, applicant representatives and the county indicated Caltrans would not allow either trenching across or boring under Highway 135.

Planning commissioners accepted the applicants’ decision to place utilities underground along their property and allow overhead lines to remain across the highway.

Will Robertson from the Transportation Division of the Public Works Department explained Lakeview Road designation was never changed from a secondary to a primary roadway.

He said that was an assumption that grew from a question he had asked — whether the traffic impacts identified in the middle of the roadway were because it had been misclassified, since the intersections were operating at adequate levels of service.

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