By Karen Brainard
Views of parking lots for two proposed projects, a Tractor Supply Company (TSC) store and multi-family housing on 16th Street, became critical issues at the Ramona Design Review Board’s June 27 meeting.
Scheduled for 7:30 p.m., the meeting did not start until 7:50, when the nine-member group finally had a quorum. Four members were absent.
With the TSC store proposed for vacant parcels at Main and Hunter streets, design review board member Rob Lewallen was adamant that he does not want to see the store parking lot from Main Street.
Developer Steve Powell and Architect Carole Wylie, both of Ramona, have been working with an Alabama-based developer who constructs buildings to lease to TSC. The client has been willing to work with the design standards of the not-yet adopted Ramona Village Center Document, which does not approve of parking lots dominating storefronts on primary streets.
Powell and Wylie designed the approximate 20,000-square-foot-building with a store entrance and parking lot on Hunter Street, and incorporated a “streetscene” resembling several rural-looking facades on the building’s exterior facing Main Street. All eucalyptus trees would be retained, and proposed landscaping between the parking lot and Main included a concrete split rail fence with low shrubs planted on each side. But Lewallen, who is also chair of the Ramona Village Design Group that developed the document of custom-tailored zoning and design standards, said, “I want to screen that big parking lot from Main Street.”
Powell and Wylie pointed out that trees and landscaping will help block parking, as will mounds between the shrubs and parking lot that will display equipment. Lewallen, however, suggested three-foot high shrubs to shield the parking lot.
“I’m pretty satisfied with everything else,” he said. “I just don’t want to look at the parking lot.”
Member Greg Roberson, also on the village design group, said he was satisfied that there were enough elements proposed. Design review Chair Debi Klingner and member Evelyn McCormick also said they were fine with the plans.
Member Carol Close, who advised on some plant selections, made a motion, which passed 5-0, that the shrubs be 30 inches high and display mounds be 18 to 24 inches above the level of the parking lot.
Lewallen said the village design group plans to meet in July with property owners in the Colonnade section, from Etcheverry to Pala streets, to talk about the village center document.
The board also saw conceptual plans for a 44-unit multi-family housing complex for 3.6 acres on the west side of 16th Street behind the Stater Bros. shopping center. Members called the two-story eight-unit buildings surrounded by parking spaces an outdated look.
Roberson said it did not reflect the current trend of walkable communities that promote interaction with neighbors and do not have parking lots in front.
Lewallen suggested design techniques to add to the community character.
“There’s a whole different feel,” Roberson said of new apartment complexes.
The project was presented by Architect Edward Gros and Bob Burch of Ramona, who said the intent is to have a housing community that is senior-friendly.
To illustrate a look they like, board members pulled out plans for AMCAL’s affordable housing community, proposed on Robertson Street behind Kmart, that has a California farmhouse design and concealed parking.