Groups question roles after Town Center Plan is implemented

Consultant Howard Blackson, far left, pulls up information on his computer as members of the Ramona Village Design Group and the Ramona Design Review Board check the draft Village Core Document. Clockwise, from left are Blackson,  Carol Fowler, Ron Rodolph, Steve Powell, Dawn Perfect, Bob Stoody, Jim Robinson, Jim Cooper, Carol Close, Evelyn McCormick, Rob Lewallen, and Greg Roberson.  Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard
Consultant Howard Blackson, far left, pulls up information on his computer as members of the Ramona Village Design Group and the Ramona Design Review Board check the draft Village Core Document. Clockwise, from left are Blackson, Carol Fowler, Ron Rodolph, Steve Powell, Dawn Perfect, Bob Stoody, Jim Robinson, Jim Cooper, Carol Close, Evelyn McCormick, Rob Lewallen, and Greg Roberson. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

By Karen Brainard

A joint meeting for the Ramona Design Review Board and the Ramona Village Design Group to test the proposed Town Center Plan initiated discussion on what roles Ramona advisory bodies will play once the plan is approved.

The groups met on Thursday, Nov. 29, after the design review board’s regular meeting.

The Town Center Plan, also known as the Village Core Document, or Project Ramona, incorporates a smartcode and design standards for downtown Ramona that are intended to streamline the development process for project applicants while creating a more pedestrian-friendly community and maintaining the town’s rural character.

Village design chair Rob Lewallen said his group has been working on the plan for 10 to 12 years. The revised document, created with the assistance of consultant Howard Blackson who was hired by the county, is nearing the final stages.

Once the plan is implemented, Lewallen said he would still like the village design group to monitor it for the  first year. The idea of a Town Center Subcommittee of the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) was discussed but it was then noted that a similar subcommittee already exists called CUDA for Current Urban Development Area. Lewallen suggested the village design group members could temporarily become a part of that subcommittee.

Greg Roberson, a member of both design review and village design, suggested a hybrid group could monitor the planning process.

“The planning issues and design issues are linked,” he said. Pointing to the draft document, he added, “This puts the zoning ordinance in our hands.”

Blackson pointed out that the document has separate sections for planning items and for design details, such as lighting landscaping and signs, so projects should still require reviews by both the planning group and design review board.

No decision was made but Lewallen said in an email the next day that  members are recommending project applicants follow the current process of meeting with design review board and then the RCPG. The RCPG has several subcommittees, so often an applicant meets with a subcommittee before the RCPG.

Due to the lateness of the meeting, only one current project was tested with the proposed code. That was Kahoots Pet and Feed Store, which has plans to build at State Route 67 and Letton Street, in the Colonnade section of the village core.

Looking at Kahoots’ plans and referring to different pages of requirements in the document, Blackson checked such items as whether the project proposed to remove any trees, and whether the building style and height matched what was allowed for that area of town.

The design review and village design groups will meet with the RCPG on Thursday, Dec. 6, to run through the basic mechanics of the draft document and the procedures, said Lewallen. The meeting is scheduled with the RCPG regular meeting which begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Ramona Library Community Room, 1275 Main St.

   
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