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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 23rd, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 47

Railroad loses bid to appeal Betteravia Plaza project

By CHRIS MCGUINNES

The Santa Maria City Council will allow plans for commercial and residential development on West Betteravia Road to move forward over the objections of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad.
   
The council voted 4-0 on Jan. 15, with Councilmember Mike Cordero absent, to deny an appeal of the city Planning Commission’s November 2018 approval of a tentative tract map for the development project, also known as Betteravia Plaza. The railroad filed the appeal, arguing that proposed residential housing, open space, and trails planned for the development would pose safety and security concerns.
   
The 57-acre project site is located just east of the West Betteravia and Blosser intersection, adjacent to the Santa Maria Police Department. While it was initially zoned for industrial uses, the zoning was later amended to allow the project to include commercial, office, and high-density residential uses. Current plans for a 22-lot subdivision also include open space and a walking and biking trail.
   
At the meeting, Santa Maria Valley Railroad President Rob Himoto told the council that he believed allowing residential development, open space, and walking trails near the railroad presented safety concerns and increased the likelihood of vandalism, trespassing, and littering on railroad property.
   
“A railroad is a different animal,” Himoto said. “In some ways it’s like a utility. Any change in land use next to the railroad right-of-way will have an effect on the railroad.”
   
The project’s developer, Dan Blough, pushed back on Himoto’s claims in his comments to the council that night, stating that he would take measures to ensure separation between the planned trails and the railroad.
   
“I don’t want to see the railroad, to tell you the truth. It’s not a pretty sight,” he said. “I think if we put up a chain-link fence, some concrete posts, and we landscape it correctly, we can protect the railroad, and we won’t have to see it.”
   
Council members sided with Blough, with several noting that the railroad officials did not show up to raise their concerns about the project when it was originally approved in February 2016, nor when the tentative tract map went before the Planning Commission in November of last year.
   
“This developer went along in the process in developing this project without any issues,” Councilmember Etta Waterfield said. “A lot of money and time went into this, so I wish you would have been at either one of those meetings to express your undesire to have something like this occur while they were setting all those plans.”
   
The Betteravia Plaza project is located in the newly formed district of Councilmember Gloria Soto, who voiced her support for the project at the Jan. 15 meeting.
   
“I think this is a good opportunity for the residents of District 3,” Soto said. “I know we’ve been needing more commercial space and definitely more open space.”




Weekly Poll
How should the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District improve its A-G completion rates?

Align graduation requirements with university entrance requirements.
Ensure that students and parents are well aware of A-Gs and what they are before high school.
Improve support services and summer school classes for students who fall behind.
Completion rates are fine as is. Not everyone wants to go to a four-year college!

| Poll Results