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East Hills Mall developers talk zoning during Bakersfield Planning Commission meeting

Plans for the East Hills Mall are discussed Thursday, June 15, 2017 at a Bakersfield Planning Commission meeting in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

The future of the East Hills Mall property was discussed at Thursday's meeting of the Bakersfield Planning Commission.

There was a unanimous decision among the commission members that they would like to see something happen with the now-vacant mall.

The current developers, C&C Properties Inc. and MarkChris Investments, plan to turn the mall into a lifestyle area that will include restaurants and shops.

During the meeting, representative for the developers proposed a zone change to the commission from planned commercial development to regional commercial zone. This means they would not be required to have each project change approved by City Council, and the commission would reduce public input.

Duane Keathley who represents the developers, said there are a lot of deadlines involved in the process, and the reason for their request was so that the project would run quickly and efficiently.

"The concern from the applicant that when changes are made ... it has to come back to a public hearing," Keathley said. "In order for that to happen, you have to get on the calendar, wait for the date, and when you are moving quickly in a retail development and you have tenant spaces to deliver, those time frames can become critical."

A few concerns the commission had in agreeing to the developers' request were making sure they allowed the public to have efficient input along with continuing the commission's participation in the process.

According to city staff, development under the requested C2 Zone, as the applicant has requested, does not require does not require any additional planning commission oversight or a public hearing.

The commission proposed and voted to combine the zones, keeping the planned commission development and adding the regional commercial zone.

The developers agreed to the zone overlapping recommendations with the idea that the process will continue to move forward.

The planning commission will pass on their recommendations to the City Council, where they will make a decision mid-July.

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