Supervisors hope to streamline permit process

San Benito County planning officials presented an ordinance amending the San Benito County code pertaining to the life of use permits for commercial and industrial zones, and county supervisors adopted it at their recent meeting.

The ordinance changes are part of an effort to streamline the permit process. It extends the lifespan of the use permits, sets forth an administrative process for the extension of the use permits and allows use permits that have expired to be renewed through an administrative process.

As the supervisors discussed the amendments Nov. 15, recommended by the county planning commission on Sept. 21, planner Byron Turner showed a map of the county displaying the different zones.

“This is a work in progress,” Turner said. “You may want additional changes in the future. As part of the general plan implementation, you may have more changes.”

Turner said that there is not much vacant commercial property, but that it would likely change with the adoption of the general plan.

A public hearing was conducted Nov. 1 and it was determined that a California Environmental Quality Act review was not required to make the changes to the ordinance.

Supervisor Jerry Muenzer was concerned about the zoning for a part of the county that could potential become a recycling and resource recovery park.

“It’s zoned for M-2. Can we move it into M-1 and not open it up to so many potential uses?” he asked, of the heavy industrial zoning versus light industrial zoning.

Gary Armstrong, the planning director, said that recycling uses are allowed only in M-2, heavy-industrial zoning. He said the supervisors could look into that change, but it would delay the amendment.

“We would need to look at the CEQA and may have to go back,” Armstrong said. “You may want to come up with a definition of light versus heavy. It’s certainly a possibility to explore.”

Margie Barrios, the chairwoman of the board, said that supervisors might want to look at what types of uses are allowed in light or heavy industrial.

Armstrong said the “main purpose” is to streamline the process for commercial and industrial use permits.

“If you approve it as proposed, we can review Muenzer’s question under a different agenda item,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong asked that supervisors move forward on approving the item to prevent slowing the process. He said he did not have any permits pending, but he knows of some smaller businesses in the county that are looking to expand that would benefit from the changes to the use permit process.

Supervisor Robert Rivas said that he did not want to limit what types of uses can be pursued in a resource recovery park.

“If it’s heavy industrial, in the end the board will have a chance to approve it,” he said. Limiting it to light industrial “will hamper proposals.”

“I honestly don’t think we should change any type of zone with this ordinance,” he said.

No one from the public spoke on the item.

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