Northwest Bakersfield residents who didn’t want an apartment complex near their homes got their way Thursday.
The city’s Planning Commission unanimously denied a request by Banrita, Inc. to amend the Metropolitan Bakersfield General Plan to change the land use for a 13.17-acre plot of land south of Hageman Road between Piedmont Street and Allen Road to allow for construction of an apartment complex.
Commissioner Barbara Lomas said the proposed development wasn’t a good fit for the neighborhood, which is mostly single-family homes. She said it would be better served as industrial use.
“I don’t see apartments. I just don’t,” she said. “The project just doesn’t look like it fits to me.”
The decision came after several residents from the area spoke in opposition of the proposal, expressing concerns that a 228-unit apartment complex would drastically reduce the property values of their homes, make area schools crowded, add to crime and traffic problems in the area, increase noise and more.
Area resident Jamie Paddock spoke on behalf of the neighborhood at the meeting. The neighborhood is outside of the city limits, and many of the residents who would have lived next to the apartment complex have farmland, horses, cattle and other animals.
“While we completely understand change is inevitable, we absolutely cannot accept the change proposed on the Hageman apartment project,” she said. “Allowing this project to go forward will jeopardize our ways of life.”
For her personally, Paddock said an apartment complex would have affected a daycare she operates out of her home, which would have been adjacent to the complex. She said she was concerned about noise, a lack of privacy as well as potential safety concerns for the children in her care due to higher levels of traffic in the area.
Paddock alleged Banrita, Inc. and the owner of the land, Vikas Ghia lied to residents in a community meeting in February by saying there would be no access to a complex from Paddock Place and Piedmont Avenue, where most of the homes adjacent to the proposed complex are located.
According to the city’s staff report, the main access to the complex would have been access on those streets.
Ghia said in the meeting that Piedmont Avenue would only serve as a fire access road and that the main entrance and exit for the complex would be on Rushmore Drive onto Hageman.
Rushmore Drive would have had to be extended south past Hageman to link up with the complex, as currently there is vacant land between the proposed complex and Hageman Road.
City staff re-examined its information and determined that what had been presented was that Piedmont Street and Paddock Place would be the main access for the complex.
Resident Jack Sheehan said he was concerned that the area, which is currently county land, would need to be annexed into the city, as he owns livestock, as do many who live in the area.
“None of us want to be annexed,” he said. “We will deal with nothing but complaints from this apartment complex if this goes in. If we get annexed, we will lose those (livestock) rights ultimately, or we will lose the value of our property when we sell it because we can no longer utilize the land the way it was utilized.”
Community Development Director Jacqui Kitchen said that if the annexation had gone through and the area did become part of the city, those who own livestock would get to keep them through a grandfathering clause.
All commissioners commended the speakers at the meeting for their comments and for not being redundant. All the commissioners were individually applauded when they spoke in opposition of approving the zoning changes.
Commission Chair Daniel Kater said that while apartments are needed in Bakersfield, he felt this wasn’t the right property for that kind of use.
“This is a very interesting parcel and I’m interested in seeing how it develops, but I would agree with the other commissioners that as this proposal goes currently, I can’t move forward in support,” he said.