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More commercial, residential development in the works in Santa Maria
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More commercial, residential development in the works in Santa Maria

Through gradual zoning changes and permit adjustments, members of the Santa Maria City Council and Planning Commission are taking steps toward bringing more commercial and residential development to the city. 

While some projects still haven't broken ground, city staff and community applicants are trying to anticipate the needs of the city and adjust project plans accordingly. 

Here are updates regarding recent developments in projects throughout Santa Maria:

Rivergate/Roemer Project and Highway 101 interchange

A zoning change approved by the Santa Maria City Council at its Tuesday meeting will allow for future commercial development at a project site in the city's northeast portion, bordered by Highway 101 and East Seaward Drive.

This 38-acre project site, identified within the now-amended Rivergate/Roemer Specific Plan, was zoned partially for commercial use with 7.5 acres limited to high-density residential and freeway service.

However, following approval from the City Council, the 7.5 acres have been rezoned for general commercial use, allowing nearly 80% of the site to be used for this purpose. 

The zoning change was requested by Urban Planning Concepts in Santa Maria, on behalf of the Roemer family, who still owns the property.

According to city senior planner Frank Albro, who presented the plan to the City Council on July 21, the idea is to increase commercial opportunities at the northeast entry to the city, serving both residents and visitors. 

"We'd like to maximize the commercial area, this is not only in terms of the regional nature of the commercial location, but also to serve the ... currently underserved northeast area of the city, and provide more commercial opportunities," Albro said.

Simultaneously, the city is planning to create a Highway 101-135 interchange in the 8 acres of open space area at the northern end of the site. 

The interchange project is one of several highway updates planned to improve traffic along Highway 101 in Santa Maria.

According to Albro, while the interchange is technically a separate project from the planned development, the completion of the interchange will ultimately dictate when the development can begin. 

" ... This property likely won't see any development until that interchange is in place, because until then it's kind of land-locked," Albro said.

City officials currently are in discussion with Caltrans and other county groups about the interchange project, with no set start date yet but with hopes to begin soon, he said.

Blosser Road residential development 

A 146-acre site along South Blosser Road was approved by the Planning Commission on Wednesday for expanded residential housing, in addition to already-established plans for a new school, open space and and commercial areas at the site. 

The area is currently being used for agricultural cultivation but was designated as a future development area within the Blosser-Southeast Specific Plan in 2002. 

On Wednesday, the commission approved zoning that would accommodate 1,105 total residential units, with parking facilities available for tenants. 

According to Dana Eady, principal planner for the city of Santa Maria, there is no timeline at this point for the beginning of development.

"The timeline for development really depends on the applicant, and their timeline for how they want to move forward. It's really setting the stage for future development of the site," she said. 

The proposed amendments to the original plan were submitted by Santa Maria planning firm Urban Planning Concepts

A recommendation to approve these amendments and changes will be considered by the City Council sometime in September, Eady said. 

Additional services at La Favorita Plaza 

An approved permit amendment for La Favorita Plaza, a discount mall between South Broadway and West Newlove Drive, will allow for the addition of food service and beauty service operations within the space, in addition to retail. 

A new permit had to be obtained by store owner YahYah Murshed to add an ice cream store, barbershop and water dispensing station within the space, along with a general revamp of the store layout.

The Santa Maria Planning Commission approved the permit amendment at its Wednesday meeting, also allowing for La Favorita to host up to 10 tenant retailers in addition to retail operated by the owners. 

La Favorita Plaza is located at 1637 S. Broadway.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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