Planners OK parcel split despite rancor between property owners

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comOctober 10, 2013 

The Planning Commission ignored a fight between property owners in approving a division of land Wednesday.

At the heart of the matter is which person has rights to the road included in the project.

Tony Whitehurst, representing Whitehurst Funeral Chapel, asked the commission to divide a 22.3-acre parcel at 1840 S. Center Ave. The request included the funeral home property, consisting of 2.49 acres, being separated from 19.79 acres of agricultural land. Whitehurst said the project was initiated because water rights are scheduled to be terminated.

The property was annexed into the city in 2006 when Ranchwood Homes asked for a 119-acre annexation, which included the Whitehurst property. Before the annexation, the Central California Irrigation District supplied water to it. Once the land was brought into the city limits, regulations mandate that CCID no longer provide water after a few years. Whitehurst said his family hopes to sell the land to someone who can supply their own water and farm it.

Ted Meza owns property west of the Whitehurst ag land. He said he is upset because the boundaries in the Whitehurst proposal include a road to his property.

“For quite a few years, I’ve been trying to get the Whitehursts to adjust my property line and it doesn’t seem to happen,” Meza said. “Now they are trying to adjust theirs, and I’m concerned with how that will affect my roadway. We know what’s happening. There’s some kind of trade going on. I don’t want this to happen. Unless they come and talk to me, I’m not interested in seeing this project go forward.”

Whitehurst said his family and Meza bought the land from the Mello family and came to an agreement about the road.

“When we bought the ground and did not buy the house, we committed to what you call an easement of necessity. We’re not going to landlock him. We’ll guarantee he has access to his property,” Whitehurst said. “If we had proposed any change to his property, we would have contacted him first.”

Commissioner Tracey Rosin asked planning commissioners to table the item until the two sides could negotiate and the city could get an attorney to review the parcel split issue and advise the board. City Attorney William Vaughn recused himself because he owns property in the area.

Commissioners Tom Mello, Arkady Faktorovich, Tom Spada and Vern Hixson disagreed with Rosin’s suggestion.

“We don’t want to get pulled into a dispute here. That’s not our business,” Mello said.

Faktorovich said, “Property owners have certain rights and I don’t consider the request to be unreasonable. We have to be able to make decisions. What are we afraid of? It’s been clearly indicated all the requirements have been met for this project.”

The commission allowed the parcel split. Rosin said she wanted more time.

“I’m not afraid of anything. I’m not choosing a side. I’m not certain they had ample opportunity to resolve it and I was thinking we’d offer them an opportunity to attempt to do that,” Rosin said.

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