While presented with county staff recommended zoning changes for the General Plan Update, Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) members expressed concern for people’s property rights.
From the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU), Devon Muto, chief of advance planning, and Eric Lardy, a land use element (LUE) planner, presented eight recommended zoning changes for various areas of Ramona during the planning group meeting on March 4.
It was during discussion of an area referred to as 1U, on the west and northwest outskirts of town, when members questioned the county planners’ reasoning for a zoning change. The existing zoning for that area is Limited Agriculture (A70), and the county planners are recommending changing the zoning to rural residential (RR). Lardy said that, under the General Plan Update, the area is designated for one-acre lots.
Although changing the zoning to RR is not that different from A70, Lardy said, it would eliminate some uses that wouldn’t be appropriate in a predominantly residential neighborhood, such as a small winery.
Chris Anderson, chair of the planning group and the group’s General Plan Update Subcommittee, said the subcommittee had met with Lardy and Muto to go over recommended zoning changes but this was one area they could not agree on and wanted more information. Anderson said the concern from some of the members was that they wanted boutique wineries to be allowed.
Lardy said the advantage to changing the zoning would help them identify the area as predominantly residential and it would allow a property owner to have a better idea of what kinds of major use permits would be available. Changing the zoning would not affect what is currently in that area, said Lardy.
RCPG member Dennis Grimes said he did not think the zoning should be changed to limit land use.
“I ran on a platform supporting property rights. I really don’t believe we should restrict property rights any more than necessary. We’re over-regulated as it is,” Grimes said.
As members questioned the need for the zoning changes, Anderson said the county planners had never discussed zoning until the past month.
RCPG member Katherine L. Finley said, “I feel like we’re really getting the rush job and this is a complex issue.” Noting that it deals with people’s property rights, Finley said she feels the group needs more time for review.
“This is our first initial look at the zoning designations,” said Lardy.
He explained that they are trying to get preliminary recommendations from all the planning groups this month and then gear up for a larger public review where they would be notifying property owners their zones could potentially be changing.
According to Lardy, they will probably have a more extensive public review in April.
Grimes’ motion to not change the area from A70 to RR was approved by the planning group.
Seven other areas with recommended zoning changes were also discussed. The board approved all the recommendations with the exception of a triangular area east of town where North County Health Services is located. Currently zoned office professional (C30) and general commercial (C36), the county planners suggested changing it to agricultural rural (AR), which was not approved by the board.
The planning group also approved the 28 motions made by the subcommittee at its Feb. 18 meeting with most of the motions recognizing that any existing lots less than the proposed minimum lot size in an area be considered conforming.