Politics

Two San Juan Bautista agencies work on uncoupling

Planning Commission moves to separate from Historic Resources Board.

At its July 2 meeting, the San Juan Bautista Planning Commission presented its first draft of a letter requesting that the City Council separate it from the Historic Resource Board. The commission also recommended an amendment to the Meritage Homes development agreement and asked new City Manager Don Reynolds to look into a noise ordinance. 

An ad hoc committee made up of commissioners Shirley Brewer and David Medeiros read a draft letter stating the pros and cons of separating the Planning Commission from the Historic Resources Board. The two boards currently consist of the same five members.

Among the pros include eligibility for historic resources grants, more focus and concentration by splitting the bodies, and increasing available resource pools to attract new members.

Among the cons, the committee said that separating could contribute to less professionalism, create additional work for city staff and City Council administration, and possibly create conflicts of interest for those living within the historic district. 

Medeiros asked commissioners to review the letter and provide input at the next meeting on what changes they would like to see.

“I think it’s a cordial and gentle way of approaching it,” Medeiros said. “Give a gentle and cordial answer back. I don’t think it’ll be an overnight process. We’ll be ready for whatever they [the City Council] want.”

On his first day as city manager, Reynolds addressed a disagreement between San Juan Bautista and Meritage Homes. 

City Planner Todd Kennedy said former interim City Manager Ed Tewes negotiated with the developer on a dispute over interpretation of development and impact fees. Reynolds said the amendment to the development agreement clarifies and separates both fees and it better defines a 2,400-square-foot home. 

Reynolds said that while Tewes and previous city manager Michaele LaForge believed a home included garages and patios—thus increasing the square footage—the developers did not. With the amendment, the updated definition does not include garages and patios.

“We felt that approaching it this way, we had a compromise that’s acceptable to the developer as I understand it,” Reynolds said.

Following Reyolds’ presentation, John Bayless with Meritage Homes spoke in favor of the amendment. 

On a 4-0 vote, the Planning Commission recommended the City Council approve the amendments. Medeiros recused himself as he lives within 500 feet of the Rancho Vista subdivision. 

Also at the meeting, commissioners asked Reynolds to look into revisiting a stalled noise ordinance that after resident Jolene Cosio complained last month about construction noise. Part of Reynolds’ research will involve getting input from San Juan Bautista City Attorney Deborah Mall. 

Kennedy said the city was in the process of passing a noise ordinance, but the topic did not come up again for discussion after it was sent back to the Planning Commission for revision in May 2016. 

Both Kennedy and Reynolds said a noise ordinance would be beneficial to the city.

“I want to make sure its enforceable,” Reynolds said. 

San Juan Bautista has used conditions of approval to set the times businesses can operate, including construction. According to the resolution passed by the Planning Commission in 2016, construction with noise that does not exceed 110 decibels at 25 feet is allowed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Construction is prohibited on Sundays and holidays. 

The resolution also sets noise limits on motorcycles, music and interior residential noise. 

 

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.