The Kern County Planning Commission has approved an event venue on Banducci Road despite some residents' concerns about the project — but the applicant will be limited to 16 events per year.
Clinton Harris was granted a conditional use permit for three years during the Feb. 14 meeting.
“Staff evaluated the owner's request and put some limitations on hours and how many events would be allowed each month because it is a residential community,” said Craig Murphy, assistant director for the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department.
A county staff report noted there is a large amount of space available on the property to accommodate an event venue. The report said the project supports goals in the Greater Tehachapi Area Specific and Community Plan, including pursuing a strong economy "through logical placement and distribution of commercial and industrial development" and supporting new development and agri-tourism.
"Staff believes this project strengthens the local economy by offering a viable and attractive site to host a diverse array of events that will attract people from both within the county and outside of it. Further, the proposed Conditions of Approval will help protect adjacent and neighboring land uses and the natural and rural qualities that make the project site an attractive choice for such events," according to the Planning Commission staff report.
The project was originally slated for consideration before the commission on Dec. 13, but it was postponed to address residents' concerns.
The county received letters raising questions about dust, fencing, vehicle headlights shining into the windows of nearby houses and music that could come from the 11.5-acre property at 19824 Banducci Road.
“Our family moved from the city to the county to enjoy the quiet,” Michele Borquez wrote in a letter to the Planning and Natural Resources Department.
She added, “I’m very much in favor of people using their property for whatever they want as long it does not affect my family in a negative way.”
Concerns included potential noise, late-night traffic on the busy two-lane highway and hazards including a hill before the entrance to the property. Headlights from exiting cars would also hit their residence windows, Borquez wrote.
The Douglas Randall Family submitted a letter stating they are in escrow on adjacent property and were “disappointed to find that the property next door would become a commercial venture subject to noise and traffic and probably loud music.”
The family asked that the permit be denied, but after submitting a statement to the planning commission they stated they wished to retract their opposition and instead take a neutral ground on the matter, according to Planning Commission documents.
While there are other event venues near Cummings Valley off Banducci Road, there are no private venues in close proximity to Brite Valley.
In addition to limiting the venue to 16 events per year, the Planning Commission agreed that from May through August, there can be a maximum of two events per month, and from September through April, a maximum of one per month. The hours would be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with cleanup of events by 11 p.m, and only Friday through Sunday.
There are restrictions on how far out sound equipment can be heard. Lighting fixtures can't exceed 30 feet above grade and no alcoholic beverage can be served after 10 p.m. A maximum of 250 individuals would be allowed at a time.
Harris is required to construct an asphalt or concrete paved road approach at Banducci Road, submit a traffic control plan (which a Planning Commission staff report states has been done), place all signage or traffic control devices warning motorists of the upcoming event venue and keep the easement open for right-of-way for drivers.
Residents can appeal the decision by submitting an application and paying a $540 fee within two weeks of approval, which is Feb. 28, Murphy said. The Kern County Planning and Natural Resources department is located at 2700 M. St. in Bakersfield and can be reached at 862-8866 or 862-8739.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to state that the Douglas Randall Family rescinded its opposition to the project and is taking a neutral stance.