Three Big Bear City property owners will have their day before the county Planning Commission in an ongoing battle against a soccer field at The Ranch.
On Thursday, Oct. 17, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission hears the appeal filed by Gary Castle, and Fred and Elaine Tresemer. They are appealing the county land use services staff decision to process a site plan permit for construction of a rest room facility and future paving of the parking lot at the park. Staff is recommending the commission deny the appeal and uphold the staff decision.
The Ranch is the former Tennis Ranch in Erwin Lake, purchased by the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District in 2007. The park district is a special district of San Bernardino County.
The Tennis Ranch included a field that at the time of purchase was overgrown and unused. The park district refurbished the field, creating a soccer field.
Adjacent neighbors have complained about the soccer field since it became operational, claiming it was never properly permitted, that the use is not in compliance with zoning and that users have been unruly and inconsiderate. Additionally, the surrounding neighbors have issued complaints about increased traffic and dust since the park district took over the property.
In April the park district filed a site plan permit application for proposed construction of the rest room and parking. Staff made the determination that the application met the criteria for processing as a site plan permit, according to information in a staff report. The appeal was filed in August claiming the project may have an effect on the environment and is not exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.
According to information in the Planning Commission agenda packet, staff states that the county Development Code allows for site plan permits for structures that meet certain criteria, which staff contends that the rest room and paving the parking lot fall under the criteria guidelines.
As far as not qualifying as exempt under CEQA, staff states the project qualifies for Class 1, Class 3 and Class 4 categorical exemptions. Class 1 is an exemption for the minor alteration of existing facilities involving negligible or no expansion of use. Class 3 is an exemption for construction of small structures, and a Class 4 exemption is for minor public or private alterations in the condition of land, water and/or vegetation.
Castle and the Tresemers want the Planning Commission to overturn the determination that the project can proceed under a site plan permit and instruct staff to prepare an initial environmental study.
Documents included in the agenda packet provided by the appellants’ attorney, William Ward, state that the property in question is being operated contrary to zoning. The document also states the park district has improperly lowered the water table in the area so surrounding residences are without sufficient water pressure.
Included in the background material submitted by the appellants is information that states the property was a “pretty shoddy-looking vacant parcel.” The appellants claim the soccer fields never existed prior to the park district creating them as new construction. Neighbors were outraged, the document states. In 2011, residents were led to believe that a conditional use permit would be applied for, but that has not taken place.
In conclusion, according to the documents provided by the appellants’ attorney, the property in question is zoned RS1, which they claim does not allow for a multi-field soccer complex.
The Planning Commission meeting is at 9 a.m. at the County Government Center, Covington Chambers, in San Bernardino. The meeting is open to the public. County Government Center is at 385 N Arrowhead Ave., First Floor, San Bernardino.
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