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Winters Express
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Parcel division
paves way for
PG&E project

Staff writer
The PG&E Winters Gas Operations Technical Training Center has been under discussion at city council meetings, planning commission meetings, and design review committee meetings over the past year. In one of the biggest steps to realizing the project, the planning commission approved a parcel division on land owned by the McClish family into three lots at the Sept. 22 meeting, so a single lot from that division could be merged with lots owned by the Jordan family to create a single parcel — the site of the future PG&E facility.
The merge was contingent on the division of the McClish property, which was approved previously as a separate item, followed by the approval of the merger. Both items were approved unanimously. Although both items were opened up for public comment, no one from the public commented or contested the parcel restructuring.
City Engineer Alan Mitchell outlined some of the features of the design relevant to city residents. Commission vice chairman Kate Frazier asked if the new parcel maps will affect construction on Grant Avenue. Mitchell replied, “This parcel map allows that future development to happen.” He explained that Grant Avenue would not be widened, but a sidewalk and landscaping to provide shade for pedestrians will be put in along the highway.
The entrance into the facility is planned to be a cul-de-sac from Grant Avenue.
“Most likely, Baker Street will be extended into One PG&E Way, and that cul-de-sac will become a knuckle,” said Mitchell of the extended effect of the parcel approval.
Commission Chair Bill Biasi asked if the new parcel allows for the public access trail along the north side of Putah Creek to be extended further east, south of the future facility.
“It shouldn’t be an issue,” responded City Manager John Donlevy. “One thing at a time — this is the first step.”
Mitchell spoke to the timely nature of the approval as well, saying it would allow PG&E to move forward the following day.
Donlevy added that the city council still needed to approve grant deeds at a special meeting the following morning before PG&E would be able to purchase the project.
Another project altering the Winters skyline, the construction of the Yolo Federal Credit Union bank on Grant Avenue and East Street, followed the PG&E parcel approvals. Jenna Moser, planning management analyst, presented the design and site plan of the building, designed by architect Ed Mojica, and to be constructed by Dave Birch of Integrated Builders Group. Moser highlighted features of the proposed building, which includes a decorative feature, which she described as “a contemporary take on the water tower.”
Sidewalks including landscape elements for shade, as well as sufficient lighting around secure areas, such as the ATM, are also a part of the site plan.
Mojica also explained that the materials chosen for the construction would be low maintenance and only possibly require new finishes after 20 years.
No comments arose from the public during this hearing on the design, and it was well-received by the commission. After Biasi added the condition of more landscaping for aesthetics, the design and site plan was approved unanimously.
Home occupation
The last discussion of the meeting regarded regulations concerning home occupations. The commission discussed regulations affecting cottage industry in city residencies and second residential units. The commission notably recognized that two members of a household both operating business from their single residence would be in violation of some technicalities.
Commissioner Lisa Baker expressed the importance of “considering community impacts” over technicalities, which prompted the commission to write an item in the code for exceptions.
Definitions of cottage industry, as well as products that fall into that designation, were updated to match state regulations. The cottage industry amendments also included the requirement for annual registration for cottage industry business of classes A and B, which correspond to direct sales and indirect sales, respectively.
An amendment to outline exceptions to cottage industry regulations included allowing more customers to interact with each business, especially if these customers do not enter the neighborhood, and do transactions off site or online. The amended code also permits trailers for cottage industry use on a residential property, as long as they are kept out of view from the street.
Baker pointed out an example issue, where two members of a household both operating business from their single residence would be in violation of some technicalities. She expressed the importance of “considering community impacts” over technicalities, which prompted the commission to write a third item in the code for exceptions. This allows the city to address future issues, and grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
The commission approved the amendments unanimously.
Second residences
In the code for second residences, an amendment was added to provide guidelines for off-street parking — this must be placed adjacent to the existing driveway, but does not need to be a certain amount of feet away from the street, as is required of the primary parking space.
Also regarding second residences, amendments were written into the code to stop landowners from creating a duplex situation without the proper designation. If a second residence is built, the landowner needs to claim one as a primary residence, and steps must be taken to ensure this is the case; for instance, if the primary residence if moved to a new structure, the kitchen must be removed from the former primary residential unit.
The commission approved the amendments unanimously.
Other items
An item previously on the agenda, regarding new home construction near Taylor Street and Kennedy Avenue, was moved to the next commission meeting.
Commissioner Patrick Riley made a comment at the close of the meeting about options for solar power in new construction projects. He requested that an analysis of adding solar panels to buildings be presented with each project.
“I think as a city we should take a lead in that,” said Riley, “I think we should have the facts to work with as a commission.”
Baker pointed out that the new YFCU building would be “solar ready”
Riley responded that presenting a building as solar ready is “taking the cheap way out,” and called for a stronger position.
Donlevy countered, “Some of the costs are going to be considerably higher.”
In agreement with Riley, commissioner Paul Myer asked for Donlevy to present the numbers on the financial impacts of adding and using solar power in future projects.
Donlevy reiterated his stance that the savings on energy would never outweigh the costs of installing solar infrastructure.
Biasi added that businesses considering coming into the city might be interested in using solar, and it might be in the city’s best interest to present those options.
Nanci Mills, city clerk, swore in new planning commissioner Frank Neal at the beginning of the meeting. Neal takes a spot on the commission previously held by Luis Reyes, who was honored for his service at the Sept. 15 city council meeting.