BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The controversial Black Ops condominium project in southwest Bakersfield is officially a dead issue, the developer’s representative told the Kern County Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon.
Roger McIntosh of McIntosh & Associates, which represents developer Black Ops Real Estate IV LLC, told supervisors that his client will send the city of Bakersfield a letter withdrawing the condominium project from consideration at tonight’s City Council meeting.
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McIntosh said that he and Matt Wade of Black Ops met with neighbors opposed to the project on Thursday and agreed that instead of 100 condominiums, Black Ops will develop 78 single-family homes on vacant land at Ming Avenue and River Run Boulevard.
“I’m not here to speak in favor of your vote, because frankly, it doesn’t matter,” McIntosh told the supervisors. “I’m here to say that we’ve been meeting with, and having discussions with, neighbors, and it looks like we have some kind of conceptual agreement.”
In a conversation outside the meeting room, McIntosh said that floorplans have not yet been decided, but Black Ops now plans to construct 67 single-family homes with attached garages on 3,000-square-foot lots, and 11 single-family homes with attached garages on 6,000-square-foot lots.
The 11 homes on larger lots could have pools, McIntosh said, although “we would probably have a (central community) recreation facility with a pool.”
“This is a classic move by Matt Wade,” McIntosh said. “He wants to be a good citizen and work with the neighborhood.”
Resident Amy Johnson Barks, who helped coordinate opposition, told supervisors that the neighbors — who had been adamant in their opposition to the condos — have a different opinion of the new project.
“The neighborhood is in support of the conceptual plan that he proposed to us,” Johnson said at the meeting.
Afterward, she added: “I see it as a victory. (Matt Wade) saw that we weren’t going to back down. I give him a lot of credit for moving forward.”
The supervisors originally had been asked by the city to make an advisory recommendation on an amendment to the Kern River Plan Element that would have allowed the Black Ops condos.
After learning the condos were out, 4th District Supervisor David Couch proposed the county send a different advisory letter to the city.
Couch suggested the county advise the city to require developers seeking a zoning change within the Kern River Plan Element that increases density to have certain projects rezoned as a Planned Unit Developments, or PUDs.
“... the density in that complex, that’s what you have to look at. How many units are you talking about?” said Couch, who lives in River Oaks, the development that includes the 10.2-acre site owned by Black Ops. “I think you have a lot more ability to apply conditions of approval with a PUD.”
One of residents’ key arguments against the condos had been that they would increase population density beyond what was appropriate. The PUD designation brings more city oversight to projects that carry it, because it guarantees that city officials must vote again on any changes proposed during construction.
The supervisors approved sending the advisory letter to the city on a 5-0 vote.
The supervisors also unanimously approved recommending that the city join the county in establishing a fee to cover processing expenses from applications for projects within the Kern River Plan Element.
Couch said that responding to the city’s request for an advisory recommendation had cost the county more than $9,200 from the General Fund.
The Kern River Plan Element is a planning program for river areas that the city and county adopted jointly.
The supervisor said Black Ops had handled plans for the site clumsily when word emerged over the winter that it intended to build a large apartment complex. By spring, it had been scaled back to 100 condos. But by then, Couch said, it was too late.
“I feel like the developer started off with something that was probably unattainable, really shook up the neighborhood unnecessarily,” Couch said.
Johnson Barks said she still plans to attend tonight’s City Council meeting — just in case the condos are not completely dead.
“Absolutely,” Johnson Barks said. “You can never rest on your laurels until the fat lady sings.”