RED BLUFF PLANNING COMMISSION


MINUTES

Date of Meeting: April 25, 2006

Time of Meeting: 5:15 p.m.

Place of Meeting: Red Bluff City Council Chambers

555 Washington Street


Commissioners Present: Doug Dale

James Brink

Greg Latourell

Andrew Christ

Jack Winter

Commissioners Absent: None


Staff Present: Charlie Mullen, Planning Director

Scot Timboe, Planner

Gerry Gray, Fire Chief

Al Shamblin, Police Chief

Mark Barthel, Public Works Director

Mike Bachmeyer, Fire Marshall

Cheryl Smith, Deputy City Clerk



Chairperson Brink called the meeting to order at 5:15 p.m.

Commissioner Andrew Christ led the Pledge of Allegiance at the request of Chairperson Brink and the Assemblage joined in.



A. CITIZENS COMMENTS

Commissioner Latourell stated that he had written a commentary in the local newspaper that some people might have read regarding his concerns with traffic in the area of the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, clarified that it would be more appropriate for Commissioner Latourell’s comments to be made at the time of the agenda item and that even though there would not be a public hearing there would be an opportunity for the public to comment.

Commissioner Latourell stated that he would hold his comments until that time.


B. CONSENT CALENDAR:


1. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

April 11, 2006


M/S/C Christ, Winter to approve the minutes of April 11, 2006 as written.

AYES: Commissioners: Brink, Christ, Dale, Latourell and Winter

NOES: None

ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None


C. CURRENT BUSINESS:

1. RESOLUTIONS PERTAINING TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT AND PROJECT APPLICATIONS FOR THE WAL-MART SUPERCENTER PROJECT – 608 LUTHER ROAD; APN’S 033-180-08, 21, 26, 46, 47 AND 70; SCH NO. 2004012088

Chairperson Brink stated that for the record the public hearing had already been conducted on March 28, 2006 and that this meeting was to formally adopt the resolutions for the project, which the Planning Commission directed staff to prepare, but citizen comments would be allowed. Future public comments will be heard by the City Council at a future meeting.

Charlie Mullen, Planning Director, gave a brief background of the proposed project, explained that tonight’s meeting was to officially adopt the resolutions that the Planning Commission directed staff to prepare following the public hearing held on March 28, 2006 and stated that the next Public Hearing would be at a City Council meeting in June. The same notifications that were mailed out for the Planning Commission Public Hearing will be mailed for this hearing. At the March 28, 2006 Planning Commission hearing there were verbal and written comments made regarding the potential environment impacts that may not have been adequately addressed in the environmental impact report. Pacific Municipal Consultants (PMC) has reviewed the comments that were related to the environmental impact report and prepared a response memo that was presented with the staff report for the Planning Commissions review this evening. It was PMC’s conclusion that the comments did not raise any new potential significant impacts or present any new significant information that has not already been adequately addressed and considered in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act. PMC concluded that re-circulation of the Draft EIR was not required and City staff, as well as the City Attorney, concurred. The Planning Commission should acknowledge and accept PMC’s response memo into the project record this evening. Also in accordance with Planning Commission direction of March 28th staff has prepared Resolution No. 06-004 recommending to the City Council certification of Certification of the Environmental Impact Report (SCH No. 2004012088), with attached Statement of Overriding Considerations; Resolution No. 06-005, recommending to the City Council approval of General Plan Land Use Map Amendment (GPA-03-002) and rezoning of the Zoning Map (REZ-194), with attached map diagrams; and Resolution No. 06-006, recommending to the City Council approval of Tentative Parcel map (TPM-04-12), Administrative Use Permit (AUP-03-007), Design Review (DRG-04-02-15), Parking Space Reduction (PCA-05-001), Tree Replacement Plan (TRP-04-02-`15), with attached Conditions of Approval, Mitigation Measures, and reduction of the project plans.

Commissioner Latourell spoke of his concerns regarding the traffic study that was conducted and questioned the dates that the traffic study was conducted by Omni Means in February of 2004.

Kamesh Vedula, Omni Means, stated that it was done on February 18th, so just a one day study.

Commissioner Latourell questioned if it was typically a one day count that these types of studies are completed.

Kamesh Vedula stated that it is typically a one day count and that counts are not done on holidays.

Commissioner Latourell stated that in the study it’s quoted as saying a typical week day and one thing that he would have made sure of was that all schools were in season on the day where the traffic count was done. In this case the only school that was in session on the day of the traffic count was Metteer School and the others were out for winter break, so a lot of the typical week day traffic associated with school buses, parents taking children to school etc. was missed. He stated that he would have picked a better date and stated that he was not comfortable with a one day survey that doesn’t have typical traffic on it and that he feels that the data collected in 2004 doesn’t project the traffic. He continued by saying that he felt this should be held over until there is a traffic count that fits. He also noted that the traffic count was done between 7 and 9 am and 4 to 6 pm, but was not done at 3 pm when the schools would have been out.

Mr. Mullen stated that the traffic count was done in a professional manner, by a professional organization and the time of the day selected is typical of looking for peak periods and while everyone recognizes that there is school let out peak at that period the standard in the industry of traffic analysis is for am and pm peak hours which was conducted as performed by Omni Means, so they have performed a traffic analysis that is consistent with all traffic studies done.

Commissioner Latourell stated that he did understand that, but when there is something unique happening at 3 p.m. that really does impact the road.

Mr. Mullen stated that the time period in which this was conducted was not during a major holiday, and that there are some area of times that do need to be avoided, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and/or the New Years Holiday. He stated that you have to select a time that is representational of the community as a whole, which is a Wednesday, a none overloaded peak day.

Commissioner Latourell stated that what he was saying was that an average day should have accounted for a school day. That coupled with no bicycle lanes, a child that was recently hit at that intersection gives him real concerns. He is concerned with the way the survey was conducted, it was very vague in the EIR, it said February 2004 and he would have naturally assumed that it would have been a multi day survey, especially one day that had the schools in session.

Mr. Mullen stated that he would ask the consultant to speak to this, but also that the intersection is identified as an impacted intersection and the out come would still be an impacted intersection, and the report does document that as a level of impacted service, at the last meeting it was identified two intersections and roadway networks and there is a Statement of Overriding Consideration presented this evening that the Planning Commission is considering for those impacts.

Kamesh Vedula Omni Means, explained how the study was completed and the times selected were for when the most commuters would be on the streets.

Commissioner Latourell questioned if traffic was counted during the 2-3 p.m. time frame, as he’s very concerned with the traffic that is going to be generated by the supercenter. He also stated that he would like to see a school let out comparison done every 15 minutes from 4 to 6 pm.

Mr. Mullen stated that with respect to Commissioner Latourell, his opinion is only one of 5 Commissioners that as a body have to give direction to staff in order to do anything differently than what has all ready been completed.

Commissioner Latourell stated that the Sphere of Influence was recently expanded and those numbers were not included.

Mark Teague, PMC, stated that what this study does is look at the prorate share of traffic that will be generated by this project and that in some cases, surrounding growth will cause the intersections and/or roadway system to fail whether or not the project is approved and that is known because the roadway sections are already failing. What the EIR has to determine in the terms of the impact, is what this particular project does to the existing and proposed future scenarios of Red Bluff.



Commissioner Latourell questioned if it would have been a more accurate study if they would have called the schools to make sure that they were in session and conducted the survey on that day.

Mr. Teague stated that accuracy is all a matter of perspective; it would have been accurate if they had studied it for an entire year and the City had accurate traffic counts. You have to take a point of time in a traffic study within a time frame of the work, but there is always going to be something open or closed. The middle of the week was picked because it isn’t near a weekend where holidays occur, isn’t a day off for school, so that is why Tuesday and/or Wednesday because those are not traditional days off. If there was no holiday noted on the calendar there wouldn’t be any reason for them to question that particular day for a traffic count.

Commissioner Latourell stated that schools are an issue for him and the lack of them being counted in the study.

Mr. Teague stated that schools are accounted in the background traffic attributed to the project.

Commissioner Latourell questioned is accidents at intersections into account when looking at the data.

Kamesh Vedula stated that they look at from a safety stand point.

Commissioner Latourell stated that he was not trying to be rude, but he lives here and drives down Luther Road on a regular basis to get to school, softball/soccer fields and daycare.

Commissioner Dale requested clarification on the date of the traffic count, which is dated Wednesday, January 25th and not the February date as mentioned.

It was explained that it was the production date of the numbers.

Commissioner Latourell questioned Mr. Mullen as to when the light at South Jackson at Luther be put in if this project goes through and if it was possible that it could be years before that intersection is signalized.

Mr. Mullen stated that the funds would have to be accumulated in the Development Impact Fees Fund and in the Transportation Capital Improvement Plan Project. On an annual basis projects are identified and monies allocated for projects. If the decision was made at a future date that South Jackson intersection was a priority then the City would commit the funds to complete. He also stated that Commissioner Latourell was correct in the fact that it could be years before the intersection at Luther and South Jackson is signalized. There are pros and cons to growth and development and with growth and development comes more traffic into the community, but you have to look at the big picture and that yes there will be increased traffic, but look at the benefits.

Commissioner Dale stated that he like the idea of looking at what this project will add to existing traffic problems and that needs to be taken into consideration because the traffic impact includes the present Wal-Mart traffic as it is.

Commissioner Christ asked the Fire Chief to address the public safety issues as it pertains to the levels of service and response time.

Gerry Gray, Fire Chief, stated that the Fire Department was not traffic experts, but they are very concerned with traffic as it pertains with their response time. The South Jackson and Luther intersection is already a problem, the South Main at Luther corridor is a problem whether or not there is a Wal-Mart there. As Red Bluff grows the Fire Department’s response time will likely increase, it’s unavoidable, but he doesn’t have the expertise to say that traffic should be one way or the other. Commissioner Latourell made a reference to Luther Road being a very busy road for emergency calls and it is. There are some major convalescent hospitals on Luther Road and Luther Road is almost 1/3 of their call volume. So as the community grows the department will experience prolonged response time.

Commissioner Dale questioned if another fire station was planned.

Fire Chief Gray stated that discussions were in the process, but they want to make sure that where it is built at it will have the maximum affect.

Mr. Mullen asked that Chief Gray address the type of system that will be built into the signals.

Chief Gray stated that the fire trucks currently can change the signals in favor of emergency vehicles. There is an emitter on the trucks that communicates with the signals computer to change the light in the fire trucks favor and that it’s been very beneficial to the department. Staff has requested that all signals built in conjunction with this project include these systems.

Mr. Mullen stated that every light that this project is responsible for or touches will be required to have these systems.

Commissioner Latourell stated that with the exception of Willow Street, Luther Road is the only way to get to the other side of town if a train has traffic blocked.

Chief Gray stated that both Willow and Luther affords access to the west side of town if a train has traffic blocked.

Chairperson Brink stated that whether Wal-Mart Supercenter goes in or not, some of these intersections will have unavoidable delays.

Commissioner Latourell requested that each recommendation be taken on an individual basis.

Chairperson Brink asked if there was any public discussion on these resolutions.

Gail Locke, Red Bluff, asked that someone explain why there was a reduction in parking spaces.

Chairperson Brink stated that it was because of the relocation of trees and the widening of Mill Street.

Mr. Mullen added that the application originally included a reduction of 10 spaces, as there are trees on site that the applicant is trying to preserve. As the project unfolded Luther Road needed to be widened so this also decreased the number of parking spaces.

Ms. Locke questioned the guidance on the trees that go in to replace those taken out and if there was conditions on how fast the trees will grow.

Mr. Mullen stated that a 3 to 1 mitigation ratio be done and because there are some heritage trees being removed staff thought it would be appropriate and it is included in the conditions that larger replacement trees are put in. The trees will be irrigated and a local tree will be used as a replacement with additional trees that will enhance.

Commissioner Latourell questioned the total number of parking spaces they do have and how much of a reduction it was.

Mr. Mullen stated 790 parking spaces and that it was a 4.1% reduction in spaces. He also stated that typically the project will be providing a 4 to 1 ratio, which for every 1000 ft they will be providing 4 parking spaces.

Lupe Green, Tehama County resident, stated that she cares about the community and that she is not a no growth advocate as she knows that the city will grow, but it needs to be smart growth. Approval of this project would be detrimental to the City of Red Bluff in many different ways. Nationally there is a movement against Wal-Mart that can’t be dismissed by saying it’s the Union people, you can’t dismiss what happens when a Wal-Mart comes into a community. She believes that the most accurate statement that has been made is accuracy is a matter of perspective and the bottom line is that you know that the traffic can not be mitigated. She stated that to approve this project is to create an absolute big mess in the south part of Red Bluff, which you will never catch up with and restore. She doesn’t know what the overriding considerations are, and she’s told that they are addressed, but you can only approve this project knowing that the traffic can not be mitigated, which is part of the report. She stated that most Wal-Mart employees get paid minimum wage and that most of them are still eligible for federal, state and county subsidies. She feels that Wal-Mart has violated many environmental regulations and has been suited and fined in court.


Cynthia Forester, Red Bluff, stated that she doesn’t understand the reasoning for leaving the smaller trees on top by Luther and removing the larger heritage trees. The heritage trees can never be replaced.

Chairperson Brink stated that it should be noted that the area is zoned for commercial use so any business could come in and remove the trees, but they would have to follow the city’s directives.

Mr. Teague stated that there was also a complete arborist report in the EIR that recommended that some trees be removed because they are past their prime and in some cases ready to fall down on their own.

Janis Houseman stated that she was concerned about the fire, fire and ambulance response to the west side of town. She believes that this is a flawed report as it doesn’t take into consideration the number of children. She currently uses Kimball Road to pickup her granddaughter from Metteer School and she questioned what would happen when people start using that road to bypass the traffic on Luther.

Sharie Smith questioned if these resolutions are adopted if it then goes to the City Council to make a decision on this project and if the City Council will take recommendations and/or the opinion of the public.

Chairperson Brink stated that the City Council makes the final decision on everything and that she would be able to address the City Council on this project.

Ms. Smith stated that the traffic is terrible now and when you leave from the Wal-Mart parking lot to Main Street traffic is backed up.

Commissioner Latourell requested that Mr. Mullen give an update of what happens when this leaves the Planning Commission.

Mr. Mullen stated that the Planning Commission is only making recommendations to the City Council. The final decision on the project will be the City Council. The meeting will be noticed and all members of the public will be able to comment on the project.

Ms. Smith stated that she wondered if what they say this evening will have an impact on the resolutions before the Planning Commission.

Mr. Mullen stated that the Planning Commission is taking into consideration all comments that are made this evening.

Commissioner Dale questioned if any one had read the EIR as it contains responses to the public’s questions and concerns.

Chairperson Brink stated that it was a public document and available for review at City Hall, the library and the Community/Senior Center.

Commissioner Latourell questioned if PMC will respond to any new information at the City Council level as they did at the planning level.

Mr. Mullen stated that both PMC and Omni Means will be at the City Council meeting and respond to questions that are raised.

Larry Gray, resident, stated that he has an Aunt that lives at Lassen House and has been to the hospital 4 times this year. Chief Gray stated that 1/3 of the calls had been on Luther Road and he stated that a lot of people’s lives are riding on this.

Vicki Latourell, resident, questioned is any of the Planning Commission had visited the Anderson Supercenter and stated that is what Red Bluff should be doing.

Mr. Teague stated that part of the reason for the roadway network in the Anderson Wal-Mart Supercenter is because of a large project called the Vineyards behind the project, which is the reason why the roads were realigned as they were.

Ms. Latourell stated that there is a lot of development to the west side of town and questioned why we were continuing to set ourselves up for failure.

DJ Miller, resident, stated that she grew up in the bay area and is used to growth and development, but would like to see sensible growth and development. She stated that even though she hasn’t read the EIR she can see that there are problems and concerns of the community that the Planning Commission should be aware of and consider before in their recommendation to the City Council for allowing this project to go ahead. She questioned why the Planning Commission would even consider recommending a project that is too large for that parcel and can not have the concerns and problems addressed easily when there are alternate sites that would not cause these problems. She asked the Planning Commission to consider an alternative site for this project.

Mr. Mullen stated that there are some very legitimate concerns being raised, however there is not one project that saddles the entire problems of this community, it is a bigger picture. He encouraged the people speaking tonight to come to meetings when discussions are on Development Impact Fees and the General Plan Update.

Claries Swanson, Proberta, stated that it had been mentioned that whether or not a supercenter is there is a problem with that intersection.

Claires Myer, resident, stated that she had this traffic everyday and what concerns her is that this store will be so big that it will bring more trucks into the area, then they say, and she doesn’t know how these trucks will get in with all the traffic.

Commissioner Latourell questioned if a separate count was taken for the larger trucks.

Kamesh Vedula stated that it was based on so many passenger cars for one truck, such as 2 passenger cars for 1 truck.

Gary Ramsey, resident, questioned the number of parking spaces in the Anderson Supercenter.

Mr. Teague stated that he would have to look up, but he thought it was about 900, but you have to understand that there is several thousand square feet of additional commercial space at the Anderson location, so it’s not just the Supercenter.

Mr. Ramsey stated that he had looked at a Supercenter that was in Colorado and it had over 1000 parking spaces. With Wal-Mart’s practice of letting RV’s use their parking lot, it will take up additional spaces. He feels that this is too big of project for the land and stated that he was not just picking on Wal-Mart.

Lamar Bayles, Wal-Mart employee, stated that it was his opinion that it will be a lot safer to have traffic lights in the area, but with growth there will be more dollars in the city’s coffers for police and fire.

Shell MacPherson, PAC Land Wal-Marts applicant, stated that he had reviewed the resolutions and wanted to request that the Planning Commission adopt the resolutions. He stated that this was a larger store than the existing store, but it is relocation. With all the mitigations traffic will improve vastly around the vicinity. The existing store will pickup 2 to 3 trucks per day with also smaller vendor trucks that will provide fresh and baked goods. The distribution trucks will come at times that are not peak and the overall increase in truck traffic is not significant.

Commissioner Latourell questioned if the additional truck from the store that will move into the old store location counted in the traffic counts and questioned where the traffic counts already stated that the intersection of Luther and Jackson is already an “F”, how Mr. MacPherson could say that it would be an improvement.

Mr. MacPherson stated that the traffic counts projected for the new center were based on the CalTrans requirement. He stated that Luther and Jackson are one of the identified intersections and it does exist at a level of “F” today and will continue until the improvements are made.

Commissioner Dale questioned Mr. MacPherson what they thought of the Red Bluff Parking Standards.

Mr. MacPherson stated that they had and that they would not be doing this is they felt that there was inadequate parking. The size of the store is designed to be more efficient and it’s more that the store is increases in size to include better amenities for both the employees and customers.

Ms. Latourell questioned the number of employees there would be at the new store and where the employees would park.

Mr. MacPherson stated 275 current employees and expects 500 employees with the new store. These employees would also be utilizing the parking lot.

Pat Talbert, resident, questioned if Wal-Mart would be hiring local contractors and workers or would they bring in out of town crews for the project. She also questioned the time line for completion of the project.

Mr. MacPherson stated that the building construction cost is estimated to be in excess of 10-12 million dollars. Wal-Mart will put the project out to bid to general contractors and then the selected general contractor would look for sub-contractors for some of the project work. The project would take 10-14 months to complete once its started.

Ms. Talbert questioned what would happen to the economy in our area if there are businesses that go out of business because of Wal-Mart being here.

Chairperson Brink stated that the Planning Commission had no way of knowing what the end result of other businesses within the City of Red Bluff, but there could be some possible impact.

Commissioner Dale stated that he could see the bigger impact on the grocery stores, which is discussed in the EIR.

Ms. Talbert questioned if the City had any recourse to make sure that mitigations to the Wal-Mart project are completed.

Mr. Mullen stated that there would be conditions of approval and mitigation measures that would need to be complete prior to occupancy of the building and if these are not done then the project does not open.

Tim Prest, Food Max Manager, stated that his store receives 6 to 8 trucks per day of groceries, milk, meat and produce and that his store does not sell general merchandise which would add additional trucks. The biggest thing that he sees is the depressed wages from Wal-Mart.

Commission Dale stated that he understood the meat department of Food Max was unionized.

Mr. Prest stated that it was not unionized.

Harriott Baluk, resident, stated that the City of Red Bluff can’t solve the traffic problems that exist now and the traffic problem should be solved now as a City problem and asked that the Planning Commission consider that.

Ms. Miller stated that it did not make sense for the Planning Commission to consider recommending a project that is too large for this site when the EIR is based upon typical and that a supercenter will not be typical and that the impact will be phenomenal.

Chairperson Brink closed the public comment period at 6:55 p.m.

Commissioner Latourell questioned if there had been another project in history of Red Bluff where there was a Statement of Overriding Consideration. He stated that he felt public safety should be one of the concerns.

Mr. Mullen stated historically no, but the city is facing projects that probably will trigger this and there are decisions that will have to be made.

Richard Crabtree, City Attorney, stated that public safety is included with those in the statement, but the language comes right out of CEQA.

M/S/C Dale, Christ to acknowledge and accept the PMC response memo into the project record.

AYES: Commissioners: Christ, Dale, Brink and Winter

NOES: Commissioner: Latourell

ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None

M/S/C Winter, Dale to adopt Resolution No. 06-004, recommending to the City Council certification of Certification of the Environmental Impact Report (SCH No. 2004012088), with attached Statement of Overriding Considerations;

AYES: Commissioners: Christ, Dale, Brink and Winter

NOES: Commissioner: Latourell

ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None


M/S/C Winter, Dale to adopt Resolution No. 06-005, recommending to the City Council approval of General Plan Land Use Map Amendment (GPA-03-002) and Rezoning of the Zoning Map (REZ-194), with attached map diagrams; and

AYES: Commissioners: Christ, Dale, Brink and Winter

NOES: Commissioner: Latourell

ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None

M/S/C Winter, Christ to adopt Resolution No. 06-006, recommending to the City Council approval of Tentative Parcel Map (TPM-04-12), Administrative Use Permit (AUP-03-007), Design Review (DRG-04-02-15), Parking Space Reduction (PCA-05-001), Tree Replacement Plan (TRP-04-02-15), with attached Conditions of Approval, Mitigation Measures, and reduced project plans.

AYES: Commissioners: Christ, Dale, Brink and Winter

NOES: Commissioner: Latourell

ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None







D. STAFF ITEMS/REPORTS:

Charlie Mullen, Planning Director, reported that so far there would only be one item for the May 9, 2006 Planning Commission meeting, which is a setback adjustment.

There being no further business Chairperson Brink adjourned the meeting at 7:08 p.m. to April 25, 2006 at 5:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

s/b Charlie Mullen

Planning Director