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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 5:36 am | Fair 44º


Live Oak Lanes Bowling Alley Project Gets OK From Buellton Planners

Neighboring business threatens to appeal, sue over family entertainment center planned for Industrial Way

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Live Oak Lanes project.
An artist’s rendering of the proposed Live Oak Lanes project.  (Courtesy photo)

With a roomful of supporters and one opponent threatening to appeal or sue, the Live Oak Lanes project proposal received the Buellton Planning Commission approval Thursday night.

The standing-room-only crowd broke out in applause as the three commissioners at the meeting approved the final development plan, lot line adjustment, conditional use permit and other matters to allow the family entertainment center to proceed.

“I think it’s a great project,” Commissioner Art Mercado said. “It’s nice to see something like this grow and be a part of what Buellton’s trying to be.”

“I think the current applicant has done a lot to try to make it work,” Commissioner Brian Dunstan added. 

Carol Lesher Peterson and her family proposed to develop Live Oak Lanes family entertainment center and a warehouse at 39 and 41 Industrial Way. The project would include a 16-lane bowling alley, arcade, bar and party rooms in addition to outdoor batting cages and bocce ball courts.

“What we’d like to create is … quality entertainment for the Santa Ynez Valley by providing fun activities for all ages in a safe and comfortable atmosphere,” said Kelly Lesher.

“Believe it or not, bowling is one of the most popular sports in the world.”

The project has undergone several revisions, Lesher said, to appease concerns raised by neighboring business Terravant Wine Company. The various modifications have added $100,000 to the project cost, she added. 

Sid Goldstien, project engineer, said the layout of the warehouse and bowling alley were flipped on the site, a redesign undertaken with the involvement of Terravant’s president, Lew Eisaguirre.

“Carol Lesher very graciously allowed that to happen. They paid for my time but she was willing to go through a redesign effort if it meant making everybody happy. So the design before you is actually a Terravant design,” Goldstien said.

Approval Thursday came despite an eleventh-hour request from project opponent Terravant to continue the public hearing to resolve issues related to drainage and access. 

“It’s basically the same issues that we discussed with the basic final paragraph that if the commission does go forward with this we will appeal and take you to court,” said City Administrator/Planning Director Marc Bierdzinski.

Live Oak Lanes developer Carol Lesher Peterson talks to a supporter Thursday night after the Buellton Planning Comission approved the project. Click to view larger
Live Oak Lanes developer Carol Lesher Peterson talks to a supporter Thursday night after the Buellton Planning Comission approved the project. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“That’s kind of the gist of the letter.”

Disputes centered on easements related to access to a stormwater pond and a roadway. 

“Our attorney believes that if we can’t get a continuance on this and resolve our issues amicably then we will have to appeal,” Terravant representative Randy Pace, senior vice president for sourcing, said. 

Chairman Foster Reif asked if anything could be done to reach a compromise Thursday night.

“I couldn’t speak to that at this point and time. I think all of our statements are on file,” Pace said. 

“I understand, but you’re asking us to give a continuance so I need some justification for the continuance,” Reif said. 

“The continuance justification is because we will appeal if it’s not continued,” Pace added.

“We may also have to sue the city and the applicant to get our rights because we believe that our rights to the pond and the city’s rights to the pond do not extend through Carol’s property.”

The city manager said the commission should not base its decision on the threats of an appeal or lawsuit.

“That’s available for any project,” Bierdzinski said. “You review the project and you make the decision that you think is equitable and move forward because of it happens it happens. 

After the meeting Bierdzinski said an appeal of a  planning commission decision must be made in 10 days. Appeals of planning commission decisions are decided by the City Council.

Other neighbors and residents told planning commissioners they welcome the addition of Live Oak Lanes to Buellton.

“Just to have one more company like this move in is just going to make it even stronger,” said Jim Dietenhofer, founder of Figueroa Mounting Brewing Co.

“The city should be proud of what’s going on around here.”

Mother of two boys Kady Fleckenstein, brand director for Figueroa Mountain Brewing, said she was extremely excited to learn the project will include batting cages and the bowling alley will include rooms to host parties.

“I just think the opportunity for families to come together is huge,” she added.

Shelby Sim from Visit Santa Ynez Valley said Live Oak Lanes will offer entertainment for youths, something lacking for the younger visitors.

“There’s still not a lot of things for kids to do,” Sim said. “This is just inevitable that we need to do this. Buellton is the right place for it. It would be short-sighted not to do it.”

He said the 34 members of Visit Santa Ynez Valley support the project.

As a new Buellton resident and father of two young children, Sim urged commissioners not to fall for the opponent’s delaying tactics and to approve the project.

“It’s just trying to wear out the applicant until they get tired and it doesn’t happen,” Sim said.

Two other supporters came from the Buellton Chamber of Commerce.

“We know this project has been a long time coming and understand the community’s excitement to see it come to fruition,” Tessi Martinez, chamber board member, read from a letter from  Executive Director Kathy Vreeland. 

“It is in our best interest to support new business and the future interests of Buellton. Providing a means of entertainment for all ages is long overdue in our 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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