Westmont Magazine Ruling Favors Westmont
Crews carefully preserve and move trees at the site of Adams Center.
In a decision released Dec. 3, California’s Second District Court of Appeal unanimously supported Westmont’s plan to update its campus facilities, reaffirming a December 2007 Santa Barbara County Superior Court ruling that upheld unanimous approvals by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and the Montecito Planning Commission. A three-judge panel issued their finding after hearing arguments Oct. 22. In all, 14 officials have made five consecutive unanimous decisions in favor of the Master Plan.
“Once again, we’ve received unanimous support for the lengthy, comprehensive and costly planning process we’ve pursued to update our Master Plan,” says President Gayle D. Beebe. “We’ve worked closely with the county and the local community, gathering input that ultimately resulted in a better project for everyone. This decision, like the ones before it, confirms that our Master Plan will not adversely affect the neighborhood.”
Eight years ago, Westmont began a long permitting process to update a previously approved Master Plan, undergoing extensive environmental review and public hearings. The college intends to build Adams Center for the Visual Arts, Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics, a chapel, a new residence hall, an observatory and new athletic fields in the first phase of construction — depending on the availability of funding — and additional buildings in the future after a lengthy quiet period. Construction for the first phase will take three years. The college pulled permits for Adams Center and Winter Hall Nov. 12, the day before the Tea Fire devastated the campus.
In May 2006, the college redesigned the project to incorporate guidance from the Montecito Board of Architectural Review and the Montecito Planning Commission, reducing total construction by more than 20,000 square feet and moving buildings away from the perimeter of the campus. The county imposed many new conditions as part of its approval, and the college has agreed to operate under a revised conditional use permit (C.U.P.) with 116 conditions, as compared to 31 under the prior C.U.P.