Community Voices

Tuesday, Jul 09 2013 11:00 PM

HOLLI SHELTON: Don't saddle River Oaks tract with impersonal, unzoned wall

Frustration. This is what the River Oaks neighborhood, located off of River Run Boulevard between Ming Avenue and Buena Vista Road, has felt fighting Black Ops LLC since January 2013.

The developers have proposed changing the zone on a 10.2 acre lot from single family homes to a planned unit development to build 100 condominium apartments. This four-plex compound would be located in the middle of an established single-family neighborhood. Hundreds of neighbors rallied together with petitions, "no zone change" signs and weekly meetings to win a 4-1 victory in a June 6 vote by the Bakersfield Planning Commission, which recommended against the condominiums. Matthew Paul Wade, who claims to be the sole investor in this project, is now appealing this decision to the Bakersfield City Council on July 17.

Our home, directly across from this lot, is our dream home for the location and family friendly neighborhood. Everyone bought into this neighborhood knowing that this empty lot was zoned R-1 and would eventually become either a school or, by retaining its original zoning, more single family homes. Wade is trying to compromise this dream by developing rented condominiums rather than single family homes.

We would love new neighbors across the street, but Wade would like to seclude this lot with a walled compound and completely go against the character and continuity of our surrounding neighborhood. If this project succeeds, we will have to contend with the traffic hazards that 100 condos will produce and face a wall instead of neighbors' homes.

Wade could still benefit financially by building homes, since the market demand is in need of single family units. Many families are struggling to find a home to purchase and would jump at the chance to buy a home in our neighborhood. But apparently that's not good enough for Wade. My neighbors and I have had to become traffic engineers, city planners and lawyers to point out the numerous errors in the applicant's proposal and the city's staff report.

I am so proud of how our neighborhood has come together as a united group against this project, which clearly does not blend into our neighborhood. I have taken precious hours away from my children to read hundreds of pages of city planning guidelines and General Plan policies to disprove the false information that Wade and his hired firm, McIntosh & Associates, have presented.

I greatly commend the Planning Commission for weighing the information and providing a comprehensive recommendation against this condominium project. Our entire community hopes that Bob Smith, our Ward's councilman, and the other City Council members will stand behind the Planning Commission's decision to reject this condominium project, which was found to be completely inconsistent with our neighborhood.

Not far from this lot, Wade has protected and provided well for his family behind the beautiful gates of Seven Oaks. I am not as fortunate to be behind gates, but will do everything in my power to protect my family's surroundings and fight to keep our single family home neighborhood intact.

Our entire community welcomes the development of this lot into single family homes as it has always been originally designed, and currently zoned for.

So, I say to the City Council: please, no zone change!

Holli Shelton of Bakersfield is life science and Gateway to Technology teacher. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words. The Californian reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity.

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