At its Jan. 10 meeting, the Los Banos Planning Commission approved the site plan review for the Seventh Street Apartments, conditionally approved the site plan of a 234,054 square-foot expansion of Paradise Tomato Kitchen and approved Victory Outreach Chruch’s Place of Worship conditional use permit.

The only absent member of the commission was Katherine Uhley, with Chair John Cates and Commissioners Elias Reyes, Rob Robinson and Christopher Perrecone forming a quorum. According to Associate Planner Rudy Luquin’s report, the Seventh Street Apartments will consist of four two-story buildings with 18 apartments in total. Each apartment has a bottom and second floor. The project is being built just north of San Luis High School by Sunset Hills Development. The commission also granted a CEQA exemption on in-fill development grounds.

The only concerns by the commissioners before approving the site plan review were firetruck access (by Reyes) and a traffic study (by Cates). Luquin assured the commission that firetruck access was accounted for by showing a site plan with a firetruck’s designed path through the development.  Luquin and Community and Economic Development Director Stacy Elms stated that the 18 units would not be enough for a traffic study.

The commission then recommended that the city council approve the final development plan for the apartments. a required action due to the buildings being bigger than triplexes.

The commission also gave conditional approval to Paradise Tomato Kitchen’s 234,054 square-foot expansion. The facility is the last business within the city limits utilizing the railroad line. The commission also approved an addendum to the negative declaration for the project.

During the public hearing, and through comments sent to the city, Rick Ortega of Grasslands Water District and Maria Sequeira of Central California Irrigation District expressed concern over the impact of the expanded facility’s stormwater runoff. The “system is already choked,” Ortega said.

Ortega highlighted the bursting of a levee last year to make his point that the additional stormwater run-off was not negligible.

In response to the concerns, the city’s community development director, Stacy Souza Elms, City Attorney William Vaughn and Commission Chair Cates crafted a condition to have CCID, GWD, Paradise Tomato Kitchen and the city’s public works department study the issue and determine the capacity within the stormwater networks and how best to handle the new run-off.

Ross Oliveira of Morning Star Packing Company, representing Paradise, expressed willingness to work with the water districts.

At the beginning of the meeting, the commission approved Los Banos Victory Outreach Church’s Place of Worship Conditional Use Permit for suites C & D at the Hacienda Business Park on 80 West G St. According to Luquin’s report, the location was previously the location of the Paraiso Brewery.

In her report, Elms mentioned that the next meeting on Jan. 24 would include the selection of a new chair and vice chair of the commission.

Javier Powell