I am one of those folks who is being affected by theManhole Builder's project on the west side of G.T. This project had been appealed to the City Council, and is coming up before the Planning Commission once again on the third of November. I have been in the Land Development business for better than thirty years now. In going through the application and Environmental papers filed with theG.T. Planning Department I generally know the language being used or being stated and thus found numerous errors and misconceptions.
Even the plan for the project was very simple, and really did not have a lot of detail on it as to how they were going to mitigate known problems. The Asst. Planning Dept. person explained that there were zero mitigation issues, as there was zero problems with the development. Although the papers were copies of a gasoline service station application they felt the two projects were similar enough in outward appearances.
Upon attending the Planning Commission meeting(s) for the project, I was astounded to hear that a couple of the Planning Commissioners had .....NEVER ACTUALLYVISITED THE SITE, but were ready to approve it based upon the appearances of the plans and the testimony of the lovely applicant.
One Planning Commissioner did mention ... out loud... that he had visited the site and found it totally different than what was on the plans, and the whole terrain and neighborhood different than he had imagined. He mentioned the site was suitable for development, just not for the size and type of business being proposed.
The site is additionally planning on establishing and routing all of the daily truck traffic through and across streets within the City of Colton. He did not find anyevidence that the City of Colton had approved such newTruck Routes through their city. It was found that they did get a complementary telephone call from the City of G.T. but were told that addition of additionof 65,000 pound trucks traversing their residential streets would have zero impact.
Persons representing the City of Colton were urged to stay away from the meeting. I wonder if the City of Colton is well aware of the impact this new truck traffic will create. One of the residents of the City of G.T. who does notlive in the area had become suspicious of the application back in early 2005. She found that there were numerous "Fast Track" fixes being proposed to which the public had not been made aware of.
Essentially, she investigated development laws and found the Planning Department proceedure to be regularly negligent on proceedures. The most glaring and easy to spot had to do with timely filing and making notice to the public of their findings. TheCity Planners were not following the proceedures established in Sacramento. They were instead trying to hurry along any project to final approval stage sothat building permits could be issued ..... and the project reassessed and placed on to next year's tax rolls.
In my opinion, this looks like the City has been prostituting itself to make the next year's budget. I am sure many readers of your blog know where to cut out fluff in the yearly budget instead. However, getting back here, the South Coast Air Quality Board just recenty sent notice that the Manhole Builder's project may not meet air quality requirements. The locals had been aiming a three/four pronged attack on the project, and air quality wasjust one of these. An athmatic family had beencertainly vocal about the project, but that got blownaway by the P.C. (Too bad you live where you do). In talking to the A.Q.M.D. the non-resident had found that there had been a "Rubber stamped" approval, based upon the air quality as mentioned in the environmental report.
The report (to which I have read) leads one tobeleive that the City of G.T. has in fact their own Air Quality members and employees and they are fullycapable of reading and making judgements regarding future impacts. The non-resident confronted the A.Q.M.D. and asked them to not gather any implications, but instead read the conclusions one more time, then draw their own conclusions. This the A.Q.M.D. did and found they were approving information based upon their own loosly based information, to which the City staff re-wrote, and made it seem original. Thus the A.Q.M.D. again found the whole thing was based upon assumptions by non-professionals.
The A.Q.M.D. has found the project not to be incompliance with established air quality ordinances. As mentioned, I have been in the Land Development profession for more than thirty years now. The ManholeBuilder's project in miniature in comparision to a few which I have completed. However, being fair, I have never completed a project within the City limits of G.T. but I do find many of their rules and ordinances rather lacking in foundation.
The whole process to initiate and complete a project is done verbally, for the are few written guidelines. This looks to be worse soon, as the city Planning Director has been pushing a huge document that essentially says "Talk to me forapproval" and I will see you get the approvals.
If anyone reads through the document, it has essentially lined out any written or descriptive elements to what can be done in any neighborhood. Zoning rules are being eliminated right and left. If passed by CityCouncil, the problems seen with the new Adult LivingCenter will become nil. For whatever the currentPlanning Director proposes, (no matter how outrageous), will then meet city code and no adverse discussion can be heard.
Thus the simple act of creating a new zone for senior apartments, will be on the non-discussion list, and be rubber stamped OK by the Planning Commission and the City Council. With myexperience, this is dangerous language should it bepassed. For on-going projects like the OutdoorActivity Center would be a non-issue, and aimed forautomatic approval without public comment. If anyonewere to file a lawsuit against a project, they couldnot cite non-conformance.
You may be interested in thematters going before the G.T. City Manager, where as I have never seen such a document before, and matters now going before the Planning Department are drawing my attention. For if passed, this opens up the whole city to whatever scheme a developer may consider.
And remember, as in the Manhole Builder's project, the Planners can then write off any public improvements. Pay attention here for this is a significant complaint to which everyone ought to be made aware of. It will then be up to the citizens of G.T. to equally pay for simple things like street widening (very expensive),water systems, storm drains (also expensive) and acquisition of land for street right-of-ways. For this five acre parcel, it would amount to a savings of several hundred thousand dollars now, and in the future could cost a good million dollars in which the residents of the city would have to pay for. However, as mentioned, the City will be able to get a few thousand in property taxes to offset this.
The Cities within San Bernardino and Riverside Counties have a general policy that if you or I comeup with a scheme to develop a parcel and make a buckoff, then it is up to us as the developer to pay for the public improvements. The City of G.T. has revised the language now to indicate that any development is of benefit to the residents as a whole, and public improvements ought to be paid by the current landowners throughout the whole city. If there isn't sufficient money in the budget to pave a road, well then it will have to wait a few years until there are dollars. It may take twenty years, but eventially the work will get done.
I live on a substandard residential street to which we have an accident on once per year. They get so commonplace we forget them. Soon we will be permitting 65,000 pound truck traffic on the already narrow streets. If a headon collision occurs, or as so recently happened the ambulance was delayed another ten minutes in reaching an address because of opposing traffic, or yet another kid gets bounced off the fender of a auto, well it wasn't myfault everyone can say truthfully.
About ten years ago we had a major road collapse due to rain. It stayed shut for nearly a year. As the filed papers ignored the standard requirements for flood control over this project, next time it collapes we ALL get to pay then.
Just thought your readers would be interested in this message. I am certain the City of Colton would have been had they read your timely information.
Dear writer... thanks for a great review of the status of the Manhole Builders Project... This ongoing issue I hope there is more information on the subject in the near future..