County Quadruples Number Of Houses On Property In Montclair’s Sphere-Of-Influence

In what is doubtless a sign of the times, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors last month granted a developer a major variance allowing the construction of 42 units on less than five acres where previously the zoning would have permitted 11 units.
The project site is currently vacant and located at 5553 Mission Boulevard east of Vernon Avenue and west of Benson Avenue on the south side of Mission Boulevard within the sphere of influence of the City of Montclair. The subject property was previously used as a commercial site until the buildings were demolished in 2003.
Broker William Lee has a listing on 4.68 acres of the raw land on Mission Boulevard, which comprises the lion’s share of the 4.97 acres in question. The property, which is listed at $3 million, had gone unsold for 609 days as of November 17, 2019. Redfin’s estimate on the value of the 4.68 acres is $2,667,264.
The property was split zoned, with what is roughly the northernmost half most proximate to Mission Boulevard zoned general commercial and the bottom half zoned single family residential, with potential access from Bel Air Avenue on the south. Several new medium and high density residential developments have been completed or are currently under construction nearby along the southern frontage of Mission Boulevard in both Ontario and Montclair.
The applicant, Crestwood Communities, requested from the county’s land use services division a general plan amendment to change the land use zoning district from general commercial and RS-20M, which allows the construction of single family residential house with minimum lot sizes of 20,000 square feet, to RM, which provides for multiple residential on a portion of the subject site and from general commercial to RM on the three adjacent parcels to the east; a conditional use permit for a 40-unit detached condominium development; a tentative tract map consisting of one lot for condominium purposes and two single family lots for individual sales; and a major variance for a reduced front yard setback at 15 feet, instead of the required 25 feet.
A project analysis provided by the county’s land use services division, after noting the proposed general plan amendment will change the land use zoning designation from the lower density residential and commercial to higher density residential on the northern portion of the project site and additionally alter the land use district from general commercial to high density residential for three adjacent parcels, said the southernmost portion of the project site will remain zoned for the lower intensity 20,000 square-foot minimum lot size residential use. “The project also includes a tentative tract map (TT 20267) to subdivide the lot into one lot for condominium development and two single-family lots for individual sale. The proposed multi-family development of 40 detached condominiums within the proposed RM zoning designation and the two proposed single-family residential lots within the RS-20M designation will comply with the applicable development code standards with approval of the conditional use permit and major variance for a reduced front yard setback. The proposed variance will allow for a reduced front yard setback at 15 feet, instead of the required 25 feet in the RM zoning district. The reduced front yard setback was necessary to allow for code compliant driveways and fire access lanes on the project site. The inclusion of the single-family homes also allows for the completion of an unfinished right-of-way along Bel Air Avenue, at the southern end of the project site.”
According to a report to the board of supervisors from San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department Director Terry Rahhal presented in advance of the December 17 board of supervisors meeting at which the action relating to the property was considered, her department was recommending the major density upgrade be granted because there was no outcry from local residents in protest of the intensification of the use of the property.
“The planning division received no comments or objection letters regarding the project,” Rahhal wrote. “In accordance with Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations Section 15070, an initial study has been completed. The initial study concludes that the project will not have a significant adverse impact on the environment with the implementation of recommended conditions of approval and mitigation measures contained in the initial study, which have been incorporated in the conditions of approval. A notice of availability/notice of intent to adopt a mitigated negative declaration was advertised and distributed to initiate a 30-day public comment period, which concluded on September 20, 2019. One comment e-mail from the city [the City of Montclair] was received, in which the city asked for clarification on the proposed variance and exemption of the single family lot sizes, as well as updates to the environmental document. The city’s comments are included in the final initial study/mitigated negative declaration.”
A mitigated negative declaration is a statement asserting that any negative environmental impacts as a consequence of a development have been mitigated through conditions imposed on the developer in the granting of the project approval.
The project was considered in a public hearing by the San Bernardino County Planning Commission on October 3, 2019. The planning commission recommended approval of the project with a vote of 5-0. No comments were received from the public during public testimony.
-Mark Gutglueck

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