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Developers of a proposed assisted living facility on the corner of Highway 202 and Schout Road are waiting on a conditional use permit from the Kern County Planning Commission.

Many residents near Highway 202 and Schout Road are voicing opposition to a proposed assisted living facility on the northeast corner of the two roadways.

The applicant is requesting a conditional use permit from the Kern County Planning Commission to start the project at 21037 Schout Road.

The proposed assisted living facility would include two buildings that can house 32 residents total with a total of 14,460 square feet. The 2.71-acre lot is zoned Residential Suburban Combining and needs a conditional use permit for the project to proceed, according to a public hearing documents.

"It’s completely inconsistent with the neighborhood,” said concerned neighbor Kathleen Dunn. “We have no services, no sidewalks, no infrastructure improvements and they want to use an on-site septic system, for that many people.”

Corinne Stone, a homeowner near the proposed facility, is concerned it may significantly increase traffic in the area, possibly contaminate the groundwater, and not match the neighborhood’s look and feel.

"It's completely inappropriate because it's a commercial facility,” Stone said.

But Ken Maler, owner and contractor of the project, along with Swanson Engineering, Inc., said the greater Tehachapi area lacks assisted living facilities.

“This facility is so needed,” Maler said. He added, “This is an assisted living facility where you can still care for yourself, but need some help.”

Maler said there are very few care facilities in the Tehachapi area and many who need such services have to go to other places such as Lancaster, Bakersfield or even Shafter.

The architectural design of the facilities is planned to match the mountain look of Tehachapi and feel like a real house, said Maler.

“It’s two separate buildings that have 16 units in each of them, with a courtyard between the buildings, and it will look like an oversized house,” added Maler.

Each unit would have a private bedroom and bathroom. Residents living in the facility could use multiple kitchens, living rooms, activity areas, laundry rooms and dinning areas.

The assisted living facilities are intended to cater to those who still can care for themselves to some extent, but may need help with meals, personal care, transportation and other needs. Many Rocky Mountain Assisted Living Facilities in Colorado are very similar to the structure that is being proposed, said Maler.

The Rocky Mountain Assisted Living Facilities in Colorado are projects Maler's family has developed.

This isn’t the first time the Tehachapi project has come before the Kern County Planning Commission.

The item has been sent back to planning staff twice.

The reasons stated “so the applicant can have the trip generation and turn movement splits developed, and staff can further review and evaluate the project’s potential impacts,” according to the May 11, 2017 Planning Commission staff report. An environmental analysis or Negative Declaration also has been needed to be drafted.

Public comment

Many are not in favor of the project. No comments in favor of the project were included in the staff reports.

More than 18 residents from the area submitted a letter to the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department saying that the project may increase traffic accidents and neighborhood noise, impact water and sewer, affect real estate values, and should be in other areas that have infrastructure that will support the facility. The April 22, 2017 letter also said the project must have environmental study documents, which were lacking.

Caltrans also submitted a letter in 2017 stating that the applicant should submit a plan for drainage and grading, plus, an outline for “trip generation and turn movement splits” at the intersection.

The city of Tehachapi submitted a letter on April 26, 2017 stating the development application should be denied, since it didn’t conform to the goal of the Greater Tehachapi Specific Plan, the city’s General Plan and CEQA guidelines.

“One of the specific goals was to direct more intense development to the city in order to maintain the rural character of the county areas. The installation of a 32-bed assisted living facility on a 4-acre parcel in a rural estate area does not seem to conform to that broad goal,” said the letter submitted by Jay Schlosser, development services director for the city of Tehachapi.

The facility would need to connect to the Golden Hills Community Services District by annexation to receive water for the property.

Susan Wells, general manager of the GHCSD, said that a “will serve” letter has been sent to the applicant, but no steps toward annexation have taken place.

Next step

A public hearing for the draft of a Negative Declaration addressing environmental issues is scheduled before the Kern County Planning Commission on the first floor of the Kern County Administrative Center at 1115 Truxtun Ave. at 7 p.m. Jan. 23, 2020.