■ By Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Editor
As the city of Hemet tries to bring in development, they also try passing costs onto the developers. This was proven at the June 6 Planning Commission meeting as the city tried to get developer Jeff Mayhew to cover the costs of the infill and ramps required for the city to be ADA-compliant on a segment of Florida Avenue, as well as pay to place utilities underground.
Mayhew owns the parcel of land that contains the old Coco’s building and the strip center of the old Stater Bros. Del Taco is not included in that parcel and has a different owner. Mayhew is also doing façade enhancements to the strip mall and expanding the old Coco’s building to house three businesses – one being The Habit Burger Grill that includes a drive-thru on the Florida Avenue side of the building.
The sidewalk and driveway on the Florida Avenue side of the property are not owned by Mayhew. However, the city tried to pass those costs onto Mayhew, according to the initial documents drawn up.
The driveway on the Sanderson side will be moved because of the project. It will be brought up to compliance in that process, per the conversation during the Planning Commission meeting. Mayhew is taking on that cost.
The City of Hemet is working on bringing the sidewalks, drives and ramps into ADA compliance and has the ongoing project listed in the Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) as funds become available. The city applied to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) ad-hoc committee earlier this year. The committee, comprised of Councilwoman Karlee Meyer and Mayor Pro Tem Michael Perciful, did not recommend to council that money be used for the infill and ramps when determining the FY 17/18 CDBG fund allocation. Council approved the ad-hoc committee’s recommendations. However, receiving CDBG funds for FY 17/18 is not guaranteed. The federal budget may exclude those funds.
Another heavy expense contested by Mayhew in the initial document is the undergrounding of two overhead powerlines. Mayhew asked why he was burdened with that cost, which would equal about half of what he is spending on the entire project. The Planning Commission stated that they are not able to waive that condition as of now because it is a city ordinance. That ordinance, however, was scheduled for amendment.
Acting Engineering Director/City Engineer Nino Abad stated: “I believe the ordinance was 1984.” Chairman John Gifford later asked if the “undergrounding is outside of the purview of the Conditional Use Permits (CUP).” Abad confirmed that was the case.
The amended ordinance was approved by City Council on July 11. The ordinance states, “WHEREAS, Section 82-172 of the Hemet Municipal Code requires all new or existing utility lines that provide service to a property or are in the adjacent right of way to a property being developed to be installed underground, with only limited exceptions for certain very small residential developments; and,
“WHEREAS, Section 82-172 allows the City Council to grant a waiver of the requirements of that section “in the case of topographical, soil, or any other conditions which make such underground installations unreasonable or impractical;” and,
“WHEREAS, many cities allow developers of certain qualifying developments to pay a fee in lieu of undergrounding existing utility lines; and,
“WHEREAS, the City Council desires to amend Section 82-172 to expand upon the list of developments that are exempt from undergrounding existing utility lines and to establish an in-lieu fee for certain qualifying developments; and
“WHEREAS, the City Council finds that as amended Section 82-172 will ensure that undergrounding requirements do not unduly stifle development in the City while still promoting the aesthetics of the City.”
Council also approved city staff’s recommendation granting “the applicant’s (Jeff Mayhew Plaza Woodland Hills, LLC) request to waive Condition 83 of CUP 17-002 which requires undergrounding of various overhead utilities adjacent to the project frontage.”
Mayhew told the Planning Commission on June 6, “This is about taking a 6,000-square foot building, tearing down the walls, reusing the existing pad, expanding it a little bit and create a brand new looking building. Something that is really going to enhance the corner. So, if we were doing the whole shopping center then I would understand some of these conditions, but I am taking what is there and making it really exciting.”
“Some of the conditions that may be normal or be advisable in certain situations, I don’t think are in my situation.”
Mayhew was present at the July 11 city council meeting but did not comment on the agenda item.
The drive-thru for The Habit Burger Grill will be over the sewer line. Community Development Director Deanna Elliano commented that “the only document that the city attorney would be assisting us with for the development is the Hold Harmless Agreement or Covenant and Agreement that is required because they have the drive-thru lane located over the City’s sewer line, and if the line needs repairs in the future that the City is not responsible for any down-time the drive thru lane is closed, or disruption to the landscaping, etc.”
When The Valley Chronicle spoke with Mayhew after that portion of the meeting, he said, “I am just trying to do this right and ethically.”
He commented during the meeting that his parcel is at the entry of the city and wants it to make a statement.