Fire Board Nixes New Station Plans

Plans to build a third Montecito fire station were dispatched to the dustbin of history by the district’s new board of directors. The environmental impact report on the proposed fire station had been deemed egregiously inadequate by Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle, and the fire board’s new majority — more focused on unanticipated pension liabilities — was not eager to incur new debts. The project had come under attack by prominent Montecito residents like billionaire Craig McCaw and Joe Cole — former News-Press publisher and now aligned financially with Santa Barbara Independent editor in chief Marianne Partridge — who had objected the facility would undermine the neighborhood’s rural character. By an arcane twist in new zoning rules, the proposed fire station would have allowed owners of nearby lemon groves to convert to residential development at a faster rate than if the station were not built.

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