PHBA Utility Building Discussion
May 29, 2017 09:36PM
● By Jennifer Neys
PHBA Utility Building Discussion
The Pleasant Hill Baseball Association (PHBA) has requested the city council overturn the planning commission’s May 2016 decision to deny a use permit and development plan permit without prejudice and approve a new utility building project adjacent to the parking lot off Hawthorne Drive, on the north side of Pleasant Oaks Park.
The proposed 1,800 square foot utility building/shed would be approximately 27-feet wide by 67-feet long and approximately 5 feet from several property lines on Roberta Avenue. PHBA intends to store four Gator Utility Vehicles (small, four-wheel drive carts) in the shed. These vehicles would transport equipment, materials and gear to the baseball/softball fields. The building would include minor modifications to existing parking, landscaping and lighting, and two 6.5-foot tall retaining walls (one each) would be added on the west and east ends of the building.
Five other alternative sites around Pleasant Oaks Park were identified as a result of input from the architectural review commission and the planning commission during previous hearings and study sessions on the project. However, PHBA and the Rec and Park District felt option 1, the original site on Hawthorne, was the best fit.
Residents have voiced concerns over the proximity of the utility building to their properties along with potential safety issues, negative noise, and aesthetic impacts. During council discussion, Mayor Harris expressed his appreciation of what the PHBA has done for the community and families throughout the years but also addressed the genuine concerns from neighbors. “I am sympathetic to the neighbors on Roberta. I don’t think the Rec and Park has explored these other options fully enough. I think there are other options that would impinge on the neighbors significantly less than this (option 1). Place the building closer to where you might need the equipment,” he said. Mayor Harris also suggested using the vacant space next to the library administration building as a temporary fix. Councilmember Noack also objected to the location of the building and said, “My concern is that we ought to be taking the time to put it in the right place. I’m concerned with the building being in the middle of a busy parking lot.”
Councilmember Flaherty suggested an adjustment and revision of the location of the proposed site and encouraged the parties to go back and talk further based on the comments heard from council. “This really wasn’t a referendum on our support and love of PHBA; it’s really about land, what’s appropriate use of the land, and trying to find the right balance between the neighbors’ interests and the Rec and Park’s interests. I’d like to see some further effort made to reconfigure that building and the site to see what the appellant wants and see if we can make it work there. I wouldn’t outright deny the appeal nor would I grant it; I think I would continue it,” said Councilmember Flaherty.
Council voted 3-2 (with Councilmembers Noack and Harris dissenting) to continue the item with respect to site 1 with modifications to the site and further discuss the item at the June 19 city council meeting. The five alternative sites will not be up for discussion or consideration.