On Wednesday, in addition to the discussion on Sterling Apartments, the Planning Commission will consider an application requesting approval to allow a semiconductor materials growth lab for the UC Davis College of Engineering, at an existing building with light industrial use, located at 2900 Spafford Street.
According to the staff report, “The research and lab use is a permitted use under the zoning for the site. However, the quantity of chemicals that the lab is expected to handle exceeds the threshold amount established in the City Zoning Code and is considered a hazardous material which requires planning approval.”
Needless to say, this has generated some community concern.
The lab would handle “as much as 89.5 gallons of hazardous liquids and 3,145 cubic feet of hazardous gasses in total where 55 gallons and 200 cubic feet are the thresholds.”
Therefore, the city is requiring a Conditional Use Permit approval for the lab, to allow the amount of hazardous materials proposed and to ensure that all appropriate safety measures are taken.
There has also been some concern about lost city tax revenue, however, the project at 2900 Spafford St “contains an existing one-story light industrial building and site improvements. The building is currently leased to U.C. Davis for the Department of Engineering and existing uses include university-related research labs and offices.”
The proposed semiconductor materials growth lab would occupy approximately 4,420 square feet of the 24,000 square-foot building. The Spafford Street area and adjacent properties consist of a mix of light industrial, R&D, office, commercial buildings and a neighborhood retail center.
A Montessori daycare is located approximately 500 feet to the west, at 2802 Spafford Street.
City staff is asking the Planning Commission to find that “the proposed project is categorically exempt from further environmental review pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15301 as an existing facility.” They explain, “The proposed project is categorically exempt from further environmental review pursuant to Section 15301 which exempts the operation and leasing of existing facilities and structures. There are no new or unusual circumstances related to the project or project site that would require further environmental review.”
The Conditional Use Permit (CUP) “provides an opportunity to evaluate the compatibility of the use with the surrounding uses and to address potential concerns. The research lab use is a permitted use that already exists on the site and is permitted by right.”
However, “the use of hazardous materials raises potential safety concerns.”
City staff writes, “Applicant and University personnel have been working closely with City departments to address potential safety issues related to the handling of the hazardous chemicals to ensure the safety of adjacent tenants, nearby businesses, and the community at-large.
“The laboratory itself is required to comply with Building and Fire Code requirements based on the use and occupancy to guarantee that adequate safeguards are in place to isolate, control, and respond to a potential incident,” staff writes.
They continue: “While the UC Davis Fire Department provides general oversight of the use, the City of Davis Fire Department will respond to any incidents. The two departments maintain a close working relationship with on-going coordination, cooperation and training for mutual aid. Additionally, the lab will need to obtain a wastewater discharge permit from city and comply with conditions of the permit.”
Staff concludes: “Compliance with standard safety protocol and requirements of the City and other regulatory agencies ensure that the handling of hazardous materials at the proposed lab will not be detrimental to the public safety or welfare. Staff believes that the necessary findings can be made to support the Conditional Use Permit. Therefore, staff recommends approval of the project based on the recommended Findings and subject to the Conditions of Approval.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting