Friday, August 14, 2015

If it's the Wednesday after the second Tuesday...

...then it must be time for another Planning Commission meeting!  

[long pause, while the cheers subside]

So what happened at the August 12 meeting?  Glad you asked, but you know we'd tell you anyway...

First up was a request to allow the property owner to build a garage closer to the property line than what is allowed by the Code; the Monrovia Municipal Code (MMC) that is.  The Zoning Ordinance in the MMC establishes development standards for new construction in the City.  Build what the code allows.  No problem. 

What happens when you want or need to build something that is not permitted?

That's when variances come into play.  Admittedly, we're very stingy with variances.  Not because we like saying no (we really don't), but the law is the law.  So here's the deal, Zoning rules are applied to lots of properties (lots of lots, LOL) with different shapes and sizes.  There are times, however, when special circumstances come into play and a deviation from the Code is warranted.  The variance process allows a property owner to request a deviation when those special circumstances exist such as a very narrow lot or one with a steep slope that limits development potential.  Bottom line, the main question that the Planners pose is, does the Zoning Ordinance deprive one "property of privileges enjoyed by other property in the vicinity and under identical zoning classification?"  If the answer is yes, then the finding can be made to approve the variance.  The Planning Commission is charged with the review and approval authority over variances.

545 Cloverleaf Way

So now that you've been brought up to speed on variances, let's get back to the meeting.  If there was ever a property that had special circumstances, this is it; 545 Cloverleaf Way is a very irregular shaped lot, without street frontage and steep slopes.  So cut to the chase, the Planning Commission approved the variance for the garage to encroach into the required setback.  

Read all about it in the Staff Report.  

Oh, and since this house is off the beaten path, so to speak, we've included a picture.

One down, one to go.

But the big item on the agenda was a little drive-thru Starbucks (950 square feet) proposed at 860 West Foothill Boulevard (southeast corner of Foothill and Madison).  

Last month, when the Planning Commission reviewed the proposal several of the Commissioners were concerned about traffic.  They requested additional information and continued the hearing until August.  During that time, additional study on the traffic issue was completed.  What came back to the Commission were several specific options that could be instituted if the proposed Starbucks creates a traffic situation.  The Commission added a condition that requires a review of the traffic patterns after three months of operation.  This review was assigned to the City's Traffic Safety Committee who could pull from the toolbox of options identified by the City's Development Services Engineer. 

While we'll miss Burger Shack, we're thinking about that iced Americano... especially with weather like this.  Want to know more?

The final item was an update by the Staff on the 2015 Neighborhood Study  including a review of the recent direction provided by the City Council on possible revisions to the City's zoning codes addressing concerns voiced by the community related to neighborhood compatibility and historic preservation.  The Staff Report with the City Council's Policy Direction Statement can be found here.  Additionally, take a look at the City's website to find even more information about this process.