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Holtville City Council gives stamp of approval to home development


Special to this newspaper

HOLTVILLE — The Holtville City Council voted unanimously Monday night to allow 30 new homes to be built but denied approval of a conditional-use permit for a converted garage to be used as a second dwelling.

AJ Real Estate Development Corp. of El Centro will be constructing the homes Ninth and 10th streets near Towland Road.

Developer Art Jaime told the council the development would include two- and three-bedroom homes with double-car garages and steel reinforced garage doors. Jaime said the homes would sell for about $115,000 to $117,000.

Alfonso Soto, owner of the home at 805 Maple Ave., has been renovating the garage as a second dwelling with the intention of selling the property but has been doing so without a building permit.


He showed the council 80 signatures from neighbors saying they didn't think they would be adversely affected by the second dwelling.

However, several other neighbors voiced their opposition, saying allowing rental dwellings on the block would lower the value of their homes. They further argued that the neighborhood is in an R1 zone for single dwelling properties.

City Planner Pete Mellinger agreed and added when the issue was brought before the Planning Commission it rejected the idea because of the home's condition and the bringing the dwelling up to code not being feasible.

Joe Gentry, who lives near the home, questioned whether the signatures were from residents living close to the home.

"What radius were these signatures gathered from?" asked Gentry.

Doris Gilmore said, "It's a nice street, it's good for children, but when you've got rentals you don't know who you have living there."

Soto conceded he should had applied for a building permit and a conditional-use permit for the second dwelling but said he immediately went to apply for the permits as soon as he realized his oversight.

He said he planned on selling the home to snowbirds who would make good neighbors and would use the second dwelling for visiting family members.

He said he understood residents' concern and would make sure the quality of the neighborhood is preserved.

Both City Manager John Jordan and City Attorney Steve Walker advised the council that under California law, cities cannot deny second dwellings other than for unrelated issues such as the condition of the dwelling.

The council discussed at length whether to turn the matter back to the Planning Commission to determine what additional conditions needed to be met, but City Planner Pete Mellinger told the council the Planning Commission had made its determination and would only send the matter immediately back to the council.

The council voted four to one, with Mayor Allen Bailey dissenting, to deny the permit on the grounds that the cost of renovating the dwelling would make it unfeasible.

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