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060618-Ryan Hostetter

Planning Manager Ryan Hostetter addresses the Planning Commission during its Wednesday meeting. 

The Santa Maria Planning Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved plans for a three-story mixed-use development that will include a laundromat along with apartment units.

Slated to be built near the corner of Donovan Road and McClelland Street — adjacent to an existing Splash n’ Dash car wash — the 35-foot-tall building will have 18 residential units ranging in square footage from 496 square feet to 600 square feet. To the east of the project site is G&S Carpet.

The project calls for two apartments to be alongside the Clean n’ Dash laundromat on the first floor, along with eight apartments on the second and third floors. Each apartment will also have its own private outdoor deck ranging from 124 to 156 square feet.

The total project area will cover approximately 20,280 square feet.

Commissioner Kelly White O’Neill questioned if noise could become an issue for tenants due to the operations of the laundromat on the first floor.

Planning Manager Ryan Hostetter said city officials asked the applicants, Mike Bouquet and Pat Cusack, to have a noise analysis report done.

A recommendation of that report required a condition of approval for the developers to include — in both English and Spanish — language in its rental agreements making prospective tenants aware of the potential noise.

“So it really is just kind of 'buyer beware' about being above the laundromat?” O’Neill asked.

“Yes, but there is a requirement for a decibel level out of our code. If there were an issue, we do have the ability to go out there and require a noise meter test done, depending on the hour — generally at night — to determine if they’re out of compliance,” Hostetter said.

The city’s allowed decibel level ranges depending on the time of day and the length of the noise.

Under the city’s code for mixed-use developments, the laundromat would be allowed to be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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Project architect Jim Duffy said the developers were aware of the potential noise issues and were addressing them with building techniques to cut down on the sound transmission from the residential and commercial parts of the building.

In other business, the Planning Commission passed a resolution asking the City Council to modify the zoning ordinance to include more stringent drought-friendly landscape requirements.

Senior Planner Frank Albro said the ordinance will update the city’s zoning ordinance to comply with state law regarding water conservation on landscape projects.

“In 1990, the state decided water was a critical resource and were looking for ways to reduce water use, one of which was to set up some standard regarding irrigation, water and landscaping,” Albro said, adding Santa Maria adopted those standards then.

Since then, the state has twice updated its model landscape ordinance, but Santa Maria has not made any updates to its code.

City officials said they don’t expect the updated landscape ordinance to affect local developers as all development projects in the city since December 2015 have been required to follow the state guidelines.

Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed

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