News Update: Tejon Ranch Seeks Building Permit for Conservancy Office Building

Tejon Ranch Company has applied for a permit to build a 1,440 square foot modular office building in Lebec for the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, created to oversee areas of the ranch proposed for conservation by an agreement made in May 2008 with five environmental organizations. The matter will go before the Kern County Planning Commission on Thursday, June 25 at 7 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors chambers on Truxton Avenue in Bakersfield.

Kathy Malouf of the Kern County Planning Department said Friday, "Our staff is making a postive recommendation for this…. We have had no opposition to the project."

The building will be located northeast of the Interstate 5 freeway, in an area near the equestrian center formerly used by the ranch for their film location office.

The agreement creating the conservancy has been controversial, because in exchange for a "ranch wide agreement" which includes conserved lands and conservation easements for purchase, the groups are required to abstain from participating in the state and federal comment periods regarding the impact of the company’s development upon endangered species. The groups also agreed not to join in litigation against Tejon Ranch Company’s development projects including Tejon Mountain Village (3,450 homes plus commercial/resort areas) and Centennial (23,000 homes plus commercial / industrial parks).

This is the staff report from the Kern County Planning Department, issued today.


Planning Commission


Date: June 25, 2009

FILE: CUP #8, Map #237-26
S.D.: #4 – Watson

TITLE: Conditional Use Permit Case No. 8, Map No. 237-26

PROPOSAL: A Conditional Use Permit to allow the constructions of an office for a Public Service Organization (Section 19.12.030.I) in an A (Exclusive Agriculture) District

APPLICANT: Tejon Ranch Company

PROJECT SIZE: Portion of a 262.2-acre parcel

LOCATION: North side of Bear Trap Road, east of Interstate 5, Lebec

GENERAL PLAN DESIGNATION: 8.3 (Extensive Agriculture), 8.3/2.1 (Extensive Agriculture – Seismic Hazard), and 8.3/2.4 (Extensive Agriculture Steep Slope)

SURROUNDING LAND USE/ZONING: North and South – Undeveloped land/A and RF (Rec¬rea¬tion-Fores¬try); East – Undeveloped land/E (20) RS (Estate 20 acres Resi¬den¬tial Sub¬ur¬ban Com¬bin¬ing) and RF; West – Undeveloped land and Interstate 5/A

PROJECT ANALYSIS: The project site consists of a portion of an approximate 262.6-acre parcel, located on the north side of Bear Trap Road and east of Interstate 5 in Lebec. The surrounding area is primarily undeveloped grazing pasture with Interstate 5 running adjacent to the project site. The property is zoned A with a map code designation of 8.3, 8.3/2.1, and 8.3/2.4 by the Kern County General Plan. The property is not under a Williamson Act Land Use Contract, however, it is within the boundaries of Agricultural Preserve 19. The project site is partially developed with an existing barn, storage shed, and corrals. As proposed, water provision would be provided by the Tejon-Castaic Water District, and sewage disposal would be provided by a septic system. Proposed access to the site is from Bear Trap Road, a non County-maintained roadway.

The applicant is requesting approval of a conditional use permit to allow the installation of a 1,440 square-foot modular building for use as an office by the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, an independent, non-profit organization. The Tejon Ranch Conservancy works with Tejon Ranch Company to oversee all the conserved lands on Tejon Ranch, and their mission is “to preserve, enhance, and restore the native biodiversity and ecosystem values of Tejon Ranch and the Tehachapi Range for the benefit of California’s future generations.” Staff notes that there are several large trees on the site and the applicant states their intention is to protect and maintain the trees. The applicant proposes to provide six on-site parking spaces. Staff notes the property was subject of a previous land use action. The Board of Zoning Amendment approved the installation of a Christo art installation project (Conditional Use Permit 4, Map 236-26; Resolution 94-89; approved June 8, 1989).

Staff was unable to identify similar requests in this zone map. Staff has notified surrounding property owners within 1,000 feet of the project site, as well as affected agencies and County departments. As of this writing, no written comments in opposition to the proposal have been received.

In order for Staff to support a conditional use permit request, specific findings must be adopted as the basis for approval. The findings that must be supported are:

(1) The proposed use is consistent with the goals and policies of the applicable General or Specific Plan.

(2) The proposed use is consistent with the purpose of the applicable district or districts.

(3) The proposed use is listed as a use subject to a conditional use permit in the applicable zoning district or districts or a use determined to be similar to a listed conditional use in accordance with the procedures set out in Section 19.08.030 through Section 19.08.080 of this title.

(4) The proposed use meets the minimum requirements of the title applicable to the use.

(5) The proposed use will not be materially detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of the public or to property and residents in the vicinity.

Staff is of the opinion that the proposed request is consistent with the applicable provisions of the Kern County General Plan. Additionally, Staff believes the recommended conditions of approval will assure that development complies with all applicable laws, ordinances, and regulations of local and federal agencies, and believes that there is adequate justification to support the request. Staff believes that implementation of this permit will not be detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of the public, property, or residents in the area. Staff believes that the request sufficiently demonstrates compliance with the necessary findings and, therefore, recommends approval of this request.

PUBLIC INQUIRY OR CORRESPONDENCE: Kern County Environmental Health Services Department; Kern County Roads Department; California Department of Transportation

CEQA ACTION: Categorically Exempt, Section 15303

DEPARTMENT RECOMMENDATION: Approve in accordance with the recommended con¬di¬tions and adopt the suggested findings as set forth in the attached Draft Resolu¬tion




This is part of the June 19, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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