The Tehachapi Planning Commission approved the revised Architectural Design and site plan for the building of a hotel in Capital Hills at its meeting last week.The non-franchise hotel is a 72 room three story structure of 25,319 square feet to be located north and adjacent to Capital Hills Parkway, East of Magellan Drive and West of Challenger Drive.
The revision replaces the originally proposed Motel 6 on the property. Commissioners Charles White, Daryl Christensen and Mariana Teel were present, Commissioners Sonja Wilson and Maria Folse were absent from the meeting.
Following the staff presentation of the of the project Chairman White suspended the three- minute rule and allowed speakers from the audience five minutes each to speak on the issue.
Ken Hetge, airport business owner , was critical of the project. Following previous approval of the Motel 6 project by the planning commission, he paid more than $1500 to appeal the matter to the Tehahapi City Council and said he will do so again.
"The city has spent countless dollars insuring our airport is modern and plays an active role in the California and american air transportation system. Our airport is important to our community. It continues to promote our airport by having the cheapest fuel prices in the state along with open space for expansion our airport is home to the Kern County Fire Department helicopter numerous months of the year, and also houses three aviation related businesses," Hetge said.
"For this particular project, this is the second bite at the apple. Even though the developer has moved his building approximately 15 feet to get it to comply with out of date published air safety zone requirements, the inherent risk of the location a single line cannot be the determining factor on whether a motel guest lives or dies should an aircraft accident occur."
Jane Barrett, representing Mountain Valley Airpor,t noted that they were opposed to this development or any other development that threatens the viability of Tehachapi Municipal. Airports are vulnerable, they are vulnerableble to encroachment. It is an endangered species -- once its gone it will never return.
Several other speakers spoke of their concerns for public safety.
One of the big issues with the original proposal was the location of a line defining the B1 and D zones. The line is a dividing line between the "B1" zone where development of a hotel would be prohibited by the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan and the "D" zone where there are no restrictions.
Community Development Manager David James explained that due to the confusion over the location of the line and use of the ALUC map or the Kern County Planning map developed from their Geographic Information System mapping the city had the line surveyed. The survey indicates the line passes through the parking lot just off the South East corner of the building. James said, "The area thats in B1 is all parking. What's important in the compatibility analysis isn't the site because it could be 30 acres, whats important is where the structure is. We gave the applicant's architect the coordinates so he could plot the line on the site plan and take the guess work out of it."
Previously at the Airport Commission meeting on Jan. 8 James gave a presentation on the issue of the line and several commissioners and pilots agreed the issue of the line was for all intents settled, but expressed other concerns.
Airport Commission Chairman Eric Hansen said, "I think you've shown a technical compliance in establishing these zones. There are two aspects at play, one aspect is protection of the public. The FAA set these rules up so your not flying airplanes, that typically when your close to landing or take-off, and have a problem you can't crash into a school, a shopping center or something where can you hurt the public.
"The other side of it is encroachment," Hansen said. "Typically you have an airport somewhere and the land looks really cheap and easy to use right close to the airport and people start building closer, closer and closer. Pretty soon the airport's the bad guy and it gets squeezed out.
Commissioner Jerry Koszyk said, "I agree with this," said Commissioner Jerry Koszyk, "Being a pilot, I don't want the 10 story building. But unfortunately we have a set of rules and if this fits the rules how can you say no you can't do it. Under what grounds. This is the line you have it right here on paper as far as how far you could go. If it meets it I don't know how could you say we don't want it."
Commissioner Rex Moen expressed his concern saying, "I've been flying 50 years. Airports have been closed all over Southern California and this is just one more encroachment, it complies with law, but when you get politics and people involved you get less support and more demand to restrict pilots and aviation.
Pilot George Sandy said, "Its already been determined by experts that the line creates a safe barrier between certain conditions of traffic and residential occupancy so I for one am satisfied with the explanation and I think we ought to move forward with this project."
The developer will be required to file a 7460-1 with the FAA and have it approved in addition to any requirements set forth by the Community Development department.
Developer Terry Delamater chose not to speak at the meeting. But later said, "The professional survey was an absolutely brilliant idea by David James and Tom Glasgow did an excellent job of explaining the airport regulations."
The next meeting of the Commission is scheduled for 6 p.m., Feb. 11, at the Beekay Theater.