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Calvary Chapel Will Keep Property in Artesia



By Rico Dizon

The Artesia City Council, at its regular meeting this past Monday, voted 3-2, with Mayor Lima and Councilman Taj voting against, to allow the Calvary Chapel on Pioneer to keep its religious facilities, which are located in a commercial general zone.

The vote comes after Ordinance No. 14-813 was approved for adopted. The ordinance now sets a precedent for other religious organizations to follow as it will now conditionally permit them to open in commercial general (C-G) zones.

Immediately after Council Member Victor Manalo made a motion for adoption that was seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Miguel Canales, Councilman Taj raised his concerns, “I support religious organizations but I am against putting up religious facilities in commercial zone. It hurts the city, it hurts the business community and it just does not make sense.”

Mayor Lima, who owns many properties in Artesia, expressed his common feeling. “I believe in religion and being religious but approving the ordinance I think will open a ‘can of worms’ for the rest of the city. It absolutely makes no sense.”

Mayor Pro Tem Canales said, “I want to throw my two cents worth for our colleagues. I was not in favor of the idea before, but after I found out that Calvary had been at the same address for 10 years I changed my decision.”

“Before I make my motion,” Manalo said, “This is practical. To use an empty property where everybody will benefit is a win-win situation for all of us. So, I am making the motion to waive further reading and adopt Ordinance No. 14-813.”

Council Member Sally Flowers chose to remain silent.

The new ordinance traced its beginning to the time Calvary Chapel submitted an application to the city’s Planning Department to approve zoning amendment and conditional use permit to keep their place of worship in a commercial zone at 18177 Pioneer Boulevard.

On July 15, 2014, the Planning Commission announced a public hearing and recommended adoption of Res. 2014-15.

On Aug. 11, 2014, the City Council held a public hearing and referred staff’s recommendations back to the Planning Commission for further review and recommendation.

On Sept. 16, the Planning Commission considered staff’s recommended revisions to proposed zone code and recommended the City Council adopt the ordinance.

The Planning Department also determined that the zoning code amendment project is exempt from CEQA and the City CEQA Guidelines. Permitting religious facilities in a commercial general zone will have no significant effect on the environment.