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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 13th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 20 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 23, Issue 20

Buellton seeks public input on upcoming mixed-use development

By Caleb Wiseblood

For a Buellton City Council meeting with only one item on the agenda, public attendance was abnormally high on July 7.

“What strikes me is we have council meetings and nobody comes. … It sure is nice to have people here,” Mayor Holly Sierra said during the meeting. “The minutes will show that this room was packed to the gills.”


STAR MARKS THE SPOT
The Buellton City Council and Buellton Planning Commission recently held a joint meeting to discuss the development of a proposed mixed-use complex, Campus 36, set to be located on the southern terminus of Industrial Way.
SCREENSHOT FROM THE BUELLTON CITY COUNCIL’S JULY 7 MEETING

The July 7 hearing was scheduled as a special joint meeting between the Buellton City Council and the Buellton Planning Commission to provide recommendations and collect public input on an upcoming mixed-use development in town. 

The meeting began with an intro from City Manager Scott Wolfe, who described the gathering as “an opportunity for the Planning Commission, the City Council, and the public to weigh in on matters that they feel should be addressed in any forthcoming specific plan document” for the project, known as Campus 36—a 17-acre development set to include industrial businesses and residential housing, with 116 dwelling units. 

In anticipation of several speakers coming forward during public comment, Wolfe said that it “won’t be helpful to get up in front of the body tonight and say, ‘I think we should deny this project,’ because that is not a potential action this evening.”

“The purpose of tonight’s meeting is not to make a decision on this project. There will be no decision made on this project tonight; it cannot happen,” said Wolfe, who added that there will be at least three more public hearings on the item before the Campus 36 specific plan is finalized or considered for approval.

City Planner Irma Tucker led a presentation on recommended requests for the project’s applicants to fulfill in the specific plan, such as studies on anticipated water usage, potential impacts on local wildlife, and traffic. 

During public comment, a handful of speakers stepped forward and offered additional requests for what they would like to see in the specific plan, including economic impact on the city and the expected monthly income of eligible renters at Campus 36. Many speakers were residents of Rancho de Maria, a neighborhood near the development site.

After public comment, Planning Commission Chair Patty Hammel expressed concern over the amount of cars the Campus 36 project will bring to Buellton.

“I know the applicant is devising a plan for the proposed project to have bike-share and car-share available, but I’m thinking as people are moving in from maybe UCSB or other areas to live and work here, they’re going to have cars, so we need to account for those cars,” Hammel said. “I think maybe we should overestimate instead of underestimate.”

Buellton Vice Mayor David King said he agrees with Hammel and wants the applicant to provide “some kind of verifiable proof” that Campus 36 won’t have a negative traffic impact on Industrial Way or Highway 246. 

“I’m very concerned about how many cars are going to be associated with this project. If you have two cars per unit, that’s 232 cars. Where are you going to put all those cars?” King said. “This is not The Jetsons, we’re not flying cars to our house, and those cars are gonna have to be somewhere.”

Wolfe said that the item will be brought back to the Buellton City Council for further consideration at the beginning of August, and at least two more occasions after that. 

“At this point, we don’t have a firm project. We have a concept plan and an application for a specific plan,” Wolfe said. “There will be many opportunities for the public to comment on this in the future.”










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