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Live Oak Lanes Bowling Center Gains Buellton Planning Commission OK For New Site

Family entertainment center gets approval for project at location on East Highway 246 after previous home on Industrial Way sparked opposition


A family entertainment center proposed for a new site in Buellton received the Planning Commission’s approval Thursday night, clearing the way for the long-awaited project’s construction.

Live Oak Lanes, planned for 10 acres at 290 E. Highway 246, will include an 18-lane bowling alley, arcade, restaurant/bar, game area, party rooms and office space in a 45,633-square-foot. two-story building. Plans also call for an outdoor patio, a second-floor balcony, and three outdoor bocce ball courts .

After the commission’s unanimous vote and positive comments, Live Oak Lanes supporters applauded in the audience, and owner Carol Lesher-Peterson said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“I am so happy,” she said after the meeting.

“I’ve been told we’ll have a shovel in the ground before the end of the year,” Lesher-Peterson said. 

Construction is expected to take approximately 10 to 12 months, Live Oak Lanes representatives said.

The project’s approval came a little more than a year after owner Lesher-Peterson announced they picked a new home for the project after encountering opposition that led to years of delays and a lawsuit from a neighbor to the prior site on Industrial Way.

“I think we have a winner this time,” said Sid Goldstien, project engineer. “Accessibility, visibility, everything is working so much better at this site than it was at Industrial Way.” 

The Planning Commission approval covered several aspects including a mitigated negative declaration, final development plan, conditional use permit and sign ordinance exemption.

Story poles have been placed at the new site for Live Oak Lanes family entertainment center in Buellton. Click to view larger
Story poles have been placed at the new site for Live Oak Lanes family entertainment center in Buellton.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The building’s architecture will feature a contemporary ranch style using masonry, stucco, and a combination of wood and metal architectural features. A unique architectural feature proposed primarily on the north and west side of the building will be metal wood grain siding to mimic the look of a bowling lane. 

Commissioners also granted the applicant’s last-minute request to have extended hours one day a week to benefit service industry employees who work odd hours, Kelly Lesher said while speaking on behalf of her mother. However, liquor would not be served after 2 a.m. in accordance with state rules.

The original plan called for the entertainment center to open from 9 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Commissioners agreed to allow up to 24-hour operations one day a week between Tuesday and Thursday, although Chairman Art Mercado said he would not want the extended hours to occur more frequently.

Live Oak Lanes is expected to have 15 full-time and 30 part-time employees. 

The project drew praise from several speakers Thursday night.

Kathy Vreeland from the Buellton Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau offered her support  on behalf of the organization.

“We’re sure glad she hung in there and stuck it out,”  Vreeland said. “I know it’s been a long ride, but we’re glad to see she stuck in there and continued her efforts for the bowling alley.” 

The family entertainment center will benefit the community plus valley visitors of all ages, Vreeland added.

“It allows a new recreation spot. We lack a little bit of that,” Vreeland said. 

Shelby Sim, executive director of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, urged commissioners to approve the project.

“It’s been a long time coming. This is the right place, right time,” Sim said, adding it will be hit with tourists and is needed for children growing up in the valley. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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