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Cox Gives $9,000 to Cover Last of Fairview Gardens’ Debt to City of Goleta

Donation comes after the city agreed in April to forgive $38,000 of nearly $47,000 the 12-acre organic farm owed in back fees

Tuesday evening marked a new beginning of sorts for Fairview Gardens in Goleta.

The 12-acre organic farm has been working for several years to bring its operation into compliance with city ordinances, and it owed nearly $47,000 to the city in fees. Those fees stemmed from a combination of unpaid balances for the processing of several permits, including those for a farm labor camp and commercial poultry operations.

In April, the City Council agreed to forgive nearly $38,000 of what the farm owed if Fairview could pay the remaining $9,000 payment by the end of the fiscal year.

Thanks to a donation from Cox Communications, the farm now stands in the clear. Cox stepped up to cover the remaining $9,000 that was owed to the city, and presented the check Tuesday night.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Cox to step up and really make an impact in the community,” said Sarah Clark, public affairs manager for Cox.

Clark said that when she heard about the need, she did her research first.

“That’s why this is a worthwhile donation,” she said. “I was so impressed with all the steps they’ve taken over the past year to get to where they are.”

The farm has completed and implemented a new business plan, a huge part of which centers on the reopening of its roadside produce stand, which it expects to open by July 1. It has also worked to revamp the layout of its fields and orchard for better agricultural yield and, hopefully, a better bottom line for its organization.

Doug Steigerwald, board president for Fairview Gardens, thanked the council and Cox, saying that the opening of the produce stand will be key.

Councilman Roger Aceves commended the two groups for the effort.

“I’m really pleased you guys have raised the money,” he said. “It’s just exceptional.”

Aceves also made the motion to accept the payment in honor of Selma Rubin, with his voice wavering.

Rubin, a longtime supporter and board member of Fairview, died in March. Aceves’ motion passed unanimously.

The farm also would have owed an additional $5,000 in permits to reopen its produce stand. That permit would allow the stand to sell organic goods not grown on the property.

After a somewhat protracted discussion, the council voted 4-1 to approve that waiver and get the stand up and running.

Although Councilwoman Margaret Connell initially said she would like to see the farm pay that fee in installments, she later relented.

“I do think down the road when we come to the next permit that the FV board has to look at underwrite it,” she told Fairview Gardens board members.

“Let’s move forward and get that thing open yesterday,” Aceves said.

Councilwoman Paula Perotte voted against the $5,000 waiver. She said that though she supported the farm, “I feel like we’ve been very generous,” adding that payments would be better.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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