Subdivision ordinance under question

An application before the San Benito County Planning Commission
to divide an existing 34.3-acre parcel on the south side of Santa
Ana Valley Road raised issues about the fairness of the county’s
subdivision ordinance.
An application before the San Benito County Planning Commission to divide an existing 34.3-acre parcel on the south side of Santa Ana Valley Road raised issues about the fairness of the county’s subdivision ordinance.

In the application, the property owner must dedicate to the county half of an 84-foot road right-of-way along Santa Ana Valley Road and must make roadway improvements for that frontage road.

Project engineer Dan Weatherly objected to the condition.

“It calls for this property to ultimately be responsible for half of the four-lane road,” he said.

Weatherly said in a commercial or an industrial area it was understandable that the adjoining property should be responsible for a full road because businesses are promoting traffic going by the property.

However, in a residential or rural area, Weatherly said the surrounding community should not be responsible for the road improvements, but the way the county subdivision ordinance is written, it requires the condition.

“Basically, the way the subdivision ordinance is written, if this was a freeway going by there this property could be responsible for half of that freeway along this frontage, you can take it to the real extreme,” he said.

Commissioner Murrill Conley agreed with Weatherly the way the subdivision ordinance is written it appeared the county was “double dipping.”

“The applicant has to dedicate part of their property for the widening of the road,” he said. “The next condition says they have to pay their share for improving that road, double dipping. I am very strongly opposed to that. I think dedicating part of your property to the county for a new road should be enough. If there is something in the ordinance that should be changed, I think that should be it.”

Chairman Joe Tonascia asked if the condition could be modified to accept the dedication of the property, but without adding the roadway improvements.

County Counsel Shirley Murphy said it could not be done under the current ordinance, but the commission could request planning staff to draft language that would change the subdivision ordinance to reflect their concerns.

Conley said it was enough that the applicant gives up their property to the county without any compensation, but then the county turns around and makes them pay for that road.

Planning Director Rob Mendiola said the county asks for that whenever there is a classification for land use.

“The reality is perhaps in an urbanize situation it was more appropriate,” he said. “The ordinance doesn’t have a scale when it’s more appropriate or less. Maybe we ought to look at that.”

Conley said with the upgrading of the county’s general plan that it was an important element.

“At least when it (property) is taken by eminent domain by a governmental agency you get some compensation for it,” he said. “This, the applicants get absolutely nothing and they still have to pay.”

The commission directed staff to prepare a workshop to review the county’s subdivision ordinance then went ahead and unanimously approved the application with all the conditions and findings as is.

Leave your comments