Land change at Paicines Ranch site

The San Benito County Planning Commission approved changing the
general plan from urban-rural to agricultural rangeland for 861
acres of the 2,226- acre Doodlebug Ranch, formerly known as the
Paicines Ranch Resort project.
The San Benito County Planning Commission approved changing the general plan from urban-rural to agricultural rangeland for 861 acres of the 2,226- acre Doodlebug Ranch, formerly known as the Paicines Ranch Resort project.

Assistant Planning Director Fred Goodrich refreshed the commission on its June 2000 decision to approve a resolution denying a zone change and development agreement, then subsequently approving a resolution to study amending the general plan back from urban rural to agricultural rangeland.

In April 2001 a draft amendment was presented to the commission, but the item was continued because the property had been sold.

Goodrich said the new owners consented with moving forward with the amendment because there would be no environmental impacts.

“We believe it’s the right time to do that,” he said.

Chairman Jack Kent opened the hearing for comment, but none was made.

Commissioner Pat Loe made a motion to approve the amendment, followed by a second from Anthony Freitas. The motion carried 4-0-1 with Commissioner Murrill Conley absent. After the vote, Commissioner Joe Tonascia stepped down from his seat and stepped into the audience to present his application to convert an existing farmhouse into an accessory Senior Second Unit while allowing the construction of the main residence. All the conditions were satisfactory with Tonascia except one which referenced the exterior design of the unit to be visually “consistent” with the main house and changing it to be “compatible.”

“The (farm) house has a tin roof and I don’t want to change,” he said. He added that he did not want to get into a situation where he would have to spend another $50,000 to $60,000 on remodeling the farmhouse.

San Juan Bautista Realtor Pat Riley wanted to know the perimeters that allow construction of granny units like the one being presented.

“We need to know when we sell the land that is a five-acre parcel and has a little existing 1,000 square foot house, can they go ahead and build a new house?” she said.

Executive Planning Director Rob Mendiola responded to the commission that staff would be happy to send Riley the regulations that were on the books.

Riley said she had looked at them before, but when it came to the granny units, it seemed to be arbitrary.

“That’s why we operate on the written word,” said Mendiola.

Susan Brady, a SJB resident, agreed with Riley.

“It does seem to be arbitrary,” she said. “I would just like to put in a word about granny units in themselves; I think they serve a very good purpose.”

Brady said there were many single people and especially seniors in need of housing.

“There are a lot of people in the community who have no idea what they are getting into when they need to provide housing for people to help them,” she said. “I would like to see the planning commission to seriously consider making the granny flats the rule and not the exception.”

Freitas made a motion to approve the permit with Tonascia’s request to reword the design conditions with Loe making a second. It passed 3-0-1.

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