The San Benito County Planning Commission on Dec. 18 unanimously approved use and grading permits for a 173-room senior assisted living facility located at 3586 Airline Highway near Ridgemark.
Associate county planner Michael Kelly said the proposed multi-story development will be 119,000 square feet on a seven-acre site that can accommodate 195 residents. The original project by applicant Nader Javid included in the environmental study showed plans for two buildings with a total of 155 rooms housing 180 residents.
Kelly said that there are no significant impacts based on the California Environmental Quality Act study. He also said San Benito County received public comment from agencies such as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Toxic Substances Control and Caltrans.
“What was recommended by the agencies was that, prior to disturbance of this site, more observation be done to be certain about the presence or lack thereof of these species so that they are not harmed as part of this project,” Kelly said. Among those species are the burrowing owl, California tiger salamander, California red-legged frog, southwesten pond turtle and western spadefoot toad. The property owner is still required to submit a water quality management plan, improvement plans, and a drainage and erosion control plan before site grading begins.
According to the meeting agenda packet, the assisted living facility would employ 30 people on a maximum of three staffing shifts, with a maximum of 10 employees working any one shift.
A 293-foot-long retaining wall will be constructed along the driveway that loops to the facility, according to the agenda packet. The height of the wall will vary with a maximum height of 8.7 feet. County planner Tavin Kinison Brown said the Hollister Fire Department requested the looped driveway for fire access.
“The project has been well-vetted through the Planning Department,” Brown said.
Given the conditions of the property, Kelly said the multi-story building, which varies between two and three stories, will be stepped into the slope rather than sit flat on the site. The project will also use the existing driveway for the Sunnyslope County Water District office, but with a requirement to widen and realign it.
Marie Motta, a neighbor of the project, brought up the driveway and the building’s planned contemporary color palette as concerns. She said that after she met with the developers, they agreed to use earth tones to maintain the setting of the land.
“You have to go along with change,” Motta said. “So I do go along with the change, I just want it to fit with the setting. And I just wanted to go on the record that we feel the road should be wide enough going up the hill to warrant what traffic it is going to generate.”