Newly seated Planning Commissioners Zachary Torres and Ken Wolfe got a good look at the vast amount of work City Planner Donna Decker and the Gridley Planning Commission go through to approve a project in Gridley.

The first item on the agenda was the approval of a Conditional Use Permit and site development plan for Iglesia Gentil De Cristo at 1133 Locust Street to allow the expansion of the facilities following a public hearing.

Members of the church filled the room as they showed support for the project which will enlarge the existing building from its 1,530 sq. ft., to 3,306 square feet. This will increase the size by tying into the existing foundation and salvage one of the walls for construction.

Planning Commission Chair Robert Wise recused himself from the public hearing as he lives within 300 feet of the project but did give his support as a neighbor with Decker telling Commissioners that there had been no complaint from neighbors over the many years and no complaints regarding the expansion were received after letters were sent to neighbors and a notice was published in The Gridley Herald.

Asked where the project would stand when the City contracts with Butte County Building Department starting July 1, Decker assured commissioners the City would likely continue with the current building official rather than send the project to the County midstream.

Church member Carol Avalos thanked the Commission and expressed the members happiness to be at this point for approval.

"We have prepared and sold thousands of tamales to fund raise for this project. We thank The Gridley Herald for the publicity so that people know what we are doing and we always sell out each time," Avalos told Commissioners.

Commissioner Torres made the motion to approve the Conditional Use Permit with Commissioner Wolfe giving the second for a unanimous vote.

The second Public Hearing was for the approval of a Site Development Plan for a 37 unit three story senior affordable housing residential apartment unit located on the east side of Highway 99 behind Dollar General.

Engineer Russ Erickson was in the audience to answer any questions about the project which will include a community garden area with raised beds, a dog park and a dining/BBQ patio area.

A concern about the safety of the project's proximity to Amerigas and the need to protect the the complex with a six to eight feet wall was discussed with Decker adding that the tanks are kept 80 percent full in the winter and 65 to 70 percent full in the summer.Vice Chair Maria Espino questioned how much parking will be available and was told it will have 44 parking spaces for the 56 units.

Espino's main concern was for the fact that the three story project will have just one elevator noting that it will be placed at the end of the first floor rather than in the middle to provide closer proximity for the residents.

Espino also asked if any assessments are done on the residents to ensure that they are able to live on their own and Decker stated she would obtain that information for the group.

Decker also expressed the need for the elevator to be large enough for gurneys if a medical situation should arise.

"Having just one elevator is my concern," Espino stated.

Erickson told Commissioners and Decker that the 80 foot access strip to the south of Dollar General leading back to the apartment complex will include a six foot wrought iron fence around the whole project with a decorated wall on the south side to deflect a possible blast from the south side of property facing Amerigas. He also explained the elevator can be centrally located as much as possible noting that there will be three sets of stairs, one in the center of the complex and one on each end.

"Elevators are extremely expensive. Trying to keep the cost down and affordable is probably why there is one elevator but I am not the architect, I am the Civil Engineer," Erickson stated.

Erickson said he would like to include in the conditions that the project will extend landscaping all the way to Dollar General for the entrance which will border Highway 99 to the south of the store.

Espino stated, "It is nice, I love the dog park, garden with raised beds for active seniors," to which Wise agreed. "I can consider this better if the elevator were better located and be able to accommodate gurneys for emergencies," Espino concluded.

A special Planning Commission meeting is being scheduled for McDonalds on June 7 at 6 p.m., in order to approve plans for a new building to be constructed in July and August with the current store and entire site being prepared for a new building.