An appeal of a proposal to build a gas station and convenience store at a busy intersection in Orcutt has been delayed by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors because of the appointment of a new county planning commissioner.
Since 2018, applicant Lama Fidel has sought approval to build and operate a service station on a vacant 0.82-acre lot at the southeast corner of Orcutt Road and Lakeview Road.
The service station would include a 5,054-square-foot commercial building, including a convenience store and a detached 2,814-square-foot canopy with four fuel dispensers.
The proposal received Santa Barbara County Planning Commission approval in October, leading PR Investments LLC and Far Western Liquors to file another appeal. They had iniitally appealed the zoning administrator’s approval of the project.
However, the appellants’ attorney, Vincent Martinez, last month became a member of the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission, raising conflict concerns and prompting the delay.
Martinez said the rules of professional conduct require him to help his client find a new attorney, which is in the works.
Staff recommended rescheduling the item for the May 3 meeting, and Martinez said a delay would give a new attorney time to get familiar with the issues.
Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said he typically dislikes granting extensions.
“This is one of those times when it actually is legitimate,” Lavagnino said.
The applicant’s land use agent said they hoped for consideration of the item sooner than May, referring to “The Iliad & the Odyssey,” an ancient Greek poem about a lengthy journey.
“As Homer tells us, it took Odysseus 10 years to sail from the battlefields of Troy back home with difficulties along the way,” Brian Tetley of Urban Planning Concepts said. “I think our client can claim their own small odyssey navigating the permit process, as this month marks four years and two months since applying for this project — 15 of those months under appeal.”
“I know it’s disappointing for the project applicant that this has taken place,” Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson, “but sometimes these conflicts arise and new information is presented that may need that delay. My preference is to have this done as soon as possible.”
Nelson added that he wants a more expedited decision in the county’s planning process.
“It does seem that May 3 as suggested by the appellant is probably the most responsible time frame to be looking at,” he said.