By Margaret Magnus with Sam Ervin & Leslie Bridger
THE PROJECT IS READY TO MOVE FORWARD
Two years after the initial donation for a fire-proof garage was made in 2007, the scope and concept for the Workshop were decided.
It was time to find a contractor. The concrete and steel construction was not typical for the Ojai area. At least two potential contractors tried to talk Meher Mount into the more traditional wood frame and stucco approach.
After spending the summer of 2009 talking to contractors and securing bids, Meher Mount found an individual and a firm, Phil Riege of Coastal Constructors, who would take on the project for a reasonable cost.
In 2010, the construction and engineering plans were submitted to Ventura County for approval. As with any project at Meher Mount, there were some unforeseen delays, obstacles, and plan changes.
THE SCENIC RESOURCES PRESERVATION (SRP) ZONE CAUSES CONCERN
Initially, getting approval from the County of Ventura was delayed because Meher Mount falls in a Scenic Resources Preservation (SRP) zone – which essentially tries to protect the environment from visual pollution.
The plan draftsman had to take pictures and prove to the County that the Workshop met the zoning requirements.
During the approval process, the County told Meher Mount that additional requirements were coming, and the planning department was waiting for changes to go through before it could approve the Workshop plans. Eventually, the County agreed to let Meher Mount’s plans proceed.
THE BUILDING SITE RAISES QUESTIONS
There was also the unforeseen and additional requirements and costs to build the Workshop on the site of the original garage. Because the site was on the edge of a slope and because of soil conditions, the County required five-foot footings on the downside slope.
ROOF PLANS NEED TO BE REDRAWN
Finally, the roof plans drawn by the draftsman and engineer and approved by the County were not workable for the contractor. The draftsman had moved out of state, so Phil Riege worked with the engineer to create a plan – without significantly increasing costs – that was eventually approved by the County.
The Workshop plans were approved by the County of Ventura, and construction began on January 20, 2011.