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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 28



Meeting Date: April 24, 2007

Subject/Title: Public hearing to hear an appeal filed by Matt Ellison of K&E Properties of the Planning Commission’s effective denial of an amendment to an approved design review for the City Block retail center to allow for a four-way signalized intersection at the Balfour Road entrance. The center is generally located on the vacant land at the southwest corner of the intersection of Griffith Lane and Balfour Road, west of the In-Shape City fitness center.

Prepared by: Debbie Hill, Associate Planner

Submitted by: Howard Sword, Community Development Director


RECOMMENDATION
Staff is recommending this item be continued to the meeting of May 22, 2007. Matt Ellison requested the continuance in order to provide additional information on the proposed traffic signal. Staff stated that we would forward the request to the City Council. After that date, we received a copy of a letter sent from Matt Ellison to the surrounding neighborhood stating that the hearing for this appeal had been extended to the City Council meeting of May 22, 2007. In order to ensure that all interested parties are able to provide their input at the hearing and avoid any confusion, staff feels it necessary to recommend the item be continued. If the item is not continued, staff recommends the City Council deny the appeal and the amendment to Design Review 05-27.

PREVIOUS ACTIONS
• Planning Commission approval of RZ 06-03 and DR 05-27 on March 21, 2006, for the 49,112 square foot City Block retail shopping center.

• City Council approval of RZ 06-03 and mitigated negative declaration on April 25, 2006.

• Planning Commission consideration and approval of an amendment to the conditions of approval regarding trash enclosure locations and modified site plan on September 19, 2006.

• City Council hearing of the appeal regarding trash enclosure locations on October 24, 2006, which was referred back to the Planning Commission.

• Planning Commission hearing of the appeal regarding trash enclosure locations on February 6, 2007.

• Planning Commission effectively denies the design review amendment application for a full access signalized intersection on March 6, 2007.

• Clarification of Planning Commission action and start of appeal period on March 20, 2007.

• City Council set appeal date on April 10, 2007.

BACKGROUND
At the Planning Commission meeting of March 6, 2007, a public hearing was held regarding the applicant’s request for the installation of a full signalized intersection, including left-turn pockets into both the project site and Veterans Park, and related intersection improvements at their project entrance to the City Block retail center along Balfour Road. The original City Block design review (DR 05-27) was approved by the Planning Commission on March 21, 2006, with only a right-in/right-out Balfour Road access.

At the March 6, 2007, public hearing, public comment was heard and discussion ensued by the Commissioners regarding concerns on the appropriateness of providing a signalized intersection at this location. Topics of discussion were the proximity of this intersection to Rosegate Avenue, and the installation of another signal on Balfour Road which would mostly benefit the developer instead of the general public. Concerns were also brought forth regarding the lack of information on traffic and parking which may be generated by the possible inclusion of a senior center just east of the Veterans Park site, as well as the elimination of a number of trees and associated landscaping within the median that would need to be modified in Balfour Road as a result of installing a signalized intersection.

The public hearing was closed and after Commission discussion, a vote was taken on the request. The application was effectively denied with two Commissioners voting to deny the project, one against the denial, one abstention and one commissioner not participating due to a conflict. The effective denial was clarified at the March 20, 2007, meeting and the appeal period ran from that date.

Matt Ellison of K&E Properties filed an appeal of this denial on March 29, 2007, citing “…the need to further evaluate conditions on the Rosegate and Balfour intersections with additional studies by experts.”

As required by Section 17.880.003.C, Matt Ellison has completed the required application, submitted the required appeal fee, and provided a statement setting forth the specific grounds for the appeal. It is a procedural requirement that the City Council set the date of the hearing. This was done at the April 10, 2007, meeting, where the City Council set April 24, 2007, as the date for the hearing on the appeal request. Appeals are heard de novo, which means the City Council hears the entire matter and can either approve, modify, or deny the proposed project, in this case the design review amendment.

Subsequent to Mr. Ellison’s appeal, on April 11, 2007, he submitted a letter requesting the public hearing be scheduled for the City Council meeting of May 22, 2007.

ANALYSIS
The applicant is proposing the installation of a full signalized intersection, including left-turn pockets into both the project site and Veterans Park, and related intersection improvements at their project entrance on Balfour Road. The signal will provide left-turn in and left-turn out vehicular movement into both the City Block project and Veterans Park. Modifications to the Veterans Park driveway and reconfiguration of the Balfour Road median and removal of existing landscaping would also need to be completed as part of the improvements to facilitate this new signalized intersection.

In order to accommodate the median cut and left-turn pockets for this signalization project within the landscape median along Balfour Road, the median would need to be reconfigured for a distance of approximately 560 feet. This reconfiguration would result in the loss of approximately 31 existing trees, 3 of those newly planted with the remaining ranging from approximately 3” to 10” in diameter. These trees would be in addition to approximately 5 trees that need to be removed in order to accommodate a right-in turn pocket for eastbound traffic along Balfour Road at the project’s main entrance at this location, and 2 trees on the park (north) side. The median is currently up to 16 feet in width. This width would be reduced to 4 feet to accommodate the turn pockets. Due to this resultant narrow configuration of the median, no trees could be replanted or saved in the project area and the landscape median could only contain low shrubs and/or groundcover not exceeding a height of 12-18 inches, and/or river rock.

Since the appeal was filed, Mr. Ellison submitted a revised traffic analysis which was conducted by Fehr & Peers to further analyze the impacts (both negative and positive) associated with the construction of a four-way, full access, signalized intersection between the City Block project and the City’s Veteran’s Park/Aquatic Park entrance along Balfour Road.

This revised access analysis concludes that providing signalized access would improve the site access and would maintain acceptable levels of service at adjacent intersections in addition to providing pedestrian access between the City park facilities to the north and the City Block project, thereby eliminating the possibility of mid-block pedestrian crossings.

Although the conclusion supports the addition of a signalized intersection at the proposed location, the report evaluated the impacts under optimal conditions with both the proposed signal and the signal at the Griffith Lane/Balfour Road intersection interconnected and coordinated. This interconnection and coordination would be negatively affected anytime a pedestrian pushed the walk button at the proposed new signal location, which would then trigger the signal at the City Block entrance, and would also be affected by increased traffic from the park site such as that experienced after a swim meet or special event; hence resulting in a disconnect between the two traffic signals.

The report acknowledges the above possible disconnect and states that, “…the resulting signal operation may allocate insufficient green time to the eastbound movement on Balfour Road at the City Block driveway to ensure that vehicle queues do not spillback through Rosegate Avenue.”

The analysis further states that, “Additionally, even though the eastbound vehicle queue is not expected to spill back from the City Block Driveway through Rosegate Avenue, sight distance could be impaired for vehicles turning left from Rosegate Avenue to Balfour Road. As the eastbound vehicle queue approaches its maximum length, the view of the westbound travel lane would be minimized.”

It is the opinion of the City’s Engineering Division, after carefully reviewing the data and conclusions in the revised traffic analysis, that the Rosegate intersection could potentially be negatively impacted by the addition of a new signal at the City Block entrance due to the anticipated queuing that can and will occur for eastbound traffic. In addition, as each traffic signal is added to an arterial street, the overall level of service decreases.

One other factor in the evaluation of this project is the addition of the senior center on the park site, the design review for which is agendized for the Planning Commission meeting of April 17, 2007. It is not anticipated that the addition of the senior center on the remainder of the park site would generate a significant traffic volume increase. In addition, it is not anticipated that a senior center would contribute to the a.m. or p.m. peak hour trips due to the fact that the majority of activities there would occur during the middle of the day. The City’s Parks and Recreation Department has verified that the majority of the senior activities take place between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., which would not influence peak hour traffic volumes. It should be noted, however, that there would need to be some on-site reconfiguration of the park to accommodate an intersection at the park entrance.

For the above reasons, staff is supporting the Planning Commission’s effective denial and bringing forward a recommendation to the City Council for denial of the appeal.

FISCAL IMPACT
The applicant paid the required $118 appeal fee. If the appeal is denied, there would be no further fiscal impact. If the appeal is approved, the developer would pay for the installation of the signal and median modifications, and also has agreed to a long-term maintenance agreement for the signal. There would be some minor improvements required to the City’s park entrance.


Attachments:
1. City Council Resolution denying the appeal
2. Appeal application received from Matt Ellison of K & E Properties, dated “Received March 29, 2007”
3. Letter from Matt Ellison of K & E Properties dated March 28, 2007
4. City Block Access Analysis prepared by Fehr & Peers dated April 6, 2007
5. Planning Commission staff report dated March 6, 2007
6. Planning Commission minutes from the meeting of March 6, 2007
7. Planning Commission staff report dated March 20, 2007
8. Planning Commission minutes from the meeting of March 20, 2007
9. Letter from Matt Ellison of K & E Properties dated April 11, 2007
10. Letter from Matt Ellison of K & E Properties dated April 13, 2007


CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION NO.

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD DENYING THE APPEAL FILED BY MATT ELLISON OF K&E PROPERTIES OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S EFFECTIVE DENIAL OF AN AMENDMENT TO THE APPROVED DESIGN REVIEW APPLICATION (DR 05-27) FOR THE CITY BLOCK COMMERCIAL CENTER TO INCORPORATE A FULL SIGNALIZED ACCESS INTERSECTION AT THE PROJECT ENTRANCE AND VETERANS PARK ON BALFOUR ROAD AND DENYING THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT. THE CITY BLOCK CENTER IS GENERALLY LOCATED ON THE VACANT LAND AT THE SOUTHWEST CORNER OF THE INTERSECTION OF BALFOUR ROAD AND GRIFFITH LANE, WEST OF THE IN-SHAPE CITY FITNESS CENTER (APN 010-110-014).

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission considered and approved Design Review 05-27 by a 4-0-1 vote and by Resolution No. 06-17 for the City Block project on March 21, 2006; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission considered an amendment to Design Review 05-27 on September 19, 2006, which included the location of the trash enclosures and a modified site plan and voted 4-0-1 for approval by Resolution No. 06-100; and

WHEREAS, said amendment to Design Review 05-27 in regard to trash enclosure locations was appealed by both the applicant, Matt Ellison, and Bonnie Keeton, an adjacent neighbor; and

WHEREAS, said appeal was heard by the City Council on October 24, 2006, and referred back to the Planning Commission for action; and

WHEREAS, said appeal was heard by the Planning Commission on February 6, 2007, and action was taken in regard to the location of trash receptacles on the site by Resolution No. 07-014; and

WHEREAS, Matt Ellison, the applicant, filed an amendment to Design Review 05-27 on November 6, 2006, requesting a full signalized access intersection for this project; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission of the City of Brentwood considered this amendment request at a public hearing at its regular meeting of March 6, 2007, and considered the staff report, all accompanying information, and testimony received from the applicant and other interested parties and the mitigative negative declaration and effectively denied the project as no quorum was reached for either approval or denial; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission clarified this effective denial at their regular meeting of March 20, 2007, and started the appeal period; and

WHEREAS, the applicant has appealed the Planning Commission’s effective denial of his amendment request for a signalized intersection for the City Block project (DR 05-27) by way of an appeal application and statement dated, “Received March 29, 2007”; and

WHEREAS, a Notice of Public Hearing was distributed to all property owners of record within 300 feet of the project site and published in the Brentwood Press on April 13, 2007, in accordance with City policies and Government Code Section 65090; and

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Brentwood held a public hearing on this appeal at its regular meeting of April 24, 2007; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has considered the staff report, supporting documents, public testimony, and all appropriate information that has been submitted with the proposed project; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, based on the facts in the staff report, written and oral testimony and exhibits presented that:

A. The City Council hereby finds that:

1. The inclusion of a full signalized access intersection for the City Block project, as well as Veterans Park, will not create a well-composed urban design, harmoniously related to other facilities in the immediate area and to the total setting as seen from key vantage points in the community, in that the inclusion of a signal at this location has the ability to negatively impact the surrounding residential homes by creating a queuing problem for eastbound traffic on Balfour Road, which will impact the ability of residents trying to turn westbound onto Balfour Road from Rosegate Avenue and will result in the elimination of landscaping in the vicinity to the detriment of the surrounding neighborhood.

2. Special consideration has not been given to the elements of design which have a significant relationship to the exterior appearance of structures and facilities with the design of the intersection and the inclusion of a four-way full access signal as a significant number of trees and associated landscaping would need to be removed in order to accommodate the required left turn lanes and median break, which would not enhance the aesthetic appearance of either the project site or surrounding area.

3. The proposed development would not be of a quality and character appropriate to, and serving to protect the value of, private and public investments in the immediate area as the inclusion of a four-way full access signalized intersection would hamper the ability of nearby residents to make a westbound turning movement onto Balfour Road from Rosegate Avenue and would diminish the aesthetic quality of the neighborhood by decreasing the amount of existing landscaping in the vicinity.

4. The proposed development does not conform to all requirements for landscaping, screening, parking, usable open space and off-street loading as set forth in the Brentwood Municipal Code as it will eliminate established public landscaping for the benefit of a private enterprise.

5. Adequate access to the City Block project is provided through an on-site driveway along Balfour Road with right-in/right-out access, as well as two shared driveways, one with the Chevron station also along Balfour Road with right-in/right-out access, and one with the In-Shape fitness facility off Griffith Lane.

6. The proposed development would decrease the overall level of service on Balfour Road due to the addition of another signal on the main east-west arterial street.

B. The City Council hereby denies the appeal filed by Matt Ellison of K&E Properties of the Planning Commission’s effective denial decision regarding an application for an amendment to an approved design review application for the City Block retail center to allow for a four-way signalized intersection at the Balfour Road entrance and hereby denies the proposed amendment to Design Review 05-27.

C. The City Council hereby acknowledges that all other previous approvals for Design Review 05-27 remain in full force and effect pursuant to Planning Commission Resolution Nos. 06-17 and 07-014.

PASSED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at its regular meeting of April 24, 2007, by the following vote:


 

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