Top stories of 2011: No. 6—Dove Canyon Courtyard

The most contentious and complex issue in Rancho Santa Margarita city history finally comes to a close. We think.

Neighbor against neighbor, truth against perception, and a city caught in the middle. The saga of the Dove Canyon Courtyard mercifully came to an end in 2011—we think.

At long last, after more than two years tied up in bitter controversy—planning commission meetings, sound checks, arguments for and arguments against—the city council in March gave the outdoor banquet facilty a conditional use permit that finally made the controversial business legal. 

Owner Kenney Hrabik could, without threat of being shut down, hold weddings, receptions and other outdoor events on the site. Hrabik had turned an eyesore—a former plant nursery—into a diamond in the hidden Dove Canyon Plaza in 2006. But the relationship between he and some of his neighbors became downright venomous.

Wedding receptions have bands and music and clapping—and that's what nearby residents disliked hearing from their backyards and living rooms.

Neither of the two sides, DCC or its neighbors, wanted to compromise. Hrabik wanted to run his business, and the neighbors wanted their quality of life to include the sound of crickets.

Each side organized, hired a legal team and then dug into the trenches.

The two sides clashed during two , and in March the matter was ultimately appealed to the city council. Those against the Dove Canyon Courtyard sat on one side of the room, those for it on the other.

In the end, after several professional sound checks proved the DCC was actually operating within the city's noise ordinance, the city granted a conditional use permit—but not before the council imposed numerous conditions on the business owner designed to protect the quality of life for the neighboring residents.

"I definitely think this has been a fair legal process," Jerry Holloway said. "One reason this has taken so long is we've tried every remedy under the sun."

—"Dove Canyon Courtyard Wins Permit Over Residents' Appeal"

—Gary Thompson had not yet been replaced, and Jesse Petrilla was training with the California National Guard—gave something to both sides. It was a compromise to clean up a messy situation that started when DCC was given the wrong permit—an occupancy permit instead of a conditional use permit—in 2006. It cleared the way for Hrabik to grow his business, and it put restrictions on him to keep the peace.

Yet neither side was happy.

Seconds after the city council made its vote, an angry opponent of DCC flipped off city council members before that side of the room stormed out of the chambers. Hrabik wasn't happy either. He filed a claim threatening to sue the city for at least $250,000.

The two sides, mercifully, . The city of Rancho Santa Margarita, which did not admit to any wrongdoing, agreed to refund Hrabik $50,000 of the approximate $60,000 it had charged him in fees to get his conditional use permit. Hrabik had challenged the fees and called them excessive.

In return, Hrabik agreed to drop all his claims against the city, acknowledged that numerous noise complaints had been filed against DCC by his neighbors and that he had made improvements on the property without obtaining the building permits required by law.

The most complex, contentious, costly and time-consuming issue in city history had come to an end.


DCDUDE January 10, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I am friends with someone who was part of the group fighting against Dove Canyon Courtyard. They felt if they complained enough to the city, this business would feel the pressure and go away. They allegedly used past councilman Christy Riley influence with the old city council of Beall, Holloway, Thompson, Blais, Thor. It is important to note that Christy Riley lives right behind DCC. This group organized their complaints on wedding nights. The problem was they could not catch DCC in a noise violation. After about three years, the city had no choice but to issue DCC their permit. I believe the city settled for $50,000 because they were at risk of losing so much more in a lawsuit. It was common knowledge around Dove Canyon that influence peddling was going on. DCDUDE
Dove Canyon Oldtimer January 10, 2012 at 04:17 PM
DCDUDE- You apparently haven't read the settlement that Kenney signed. He admitted to violating the law by installing modifications to his business without proper permits and admitted that there were numerous noise complaints. As far as influence peddling, all I have seen since before the last election and since is Baric and Petrilla doing everything they can to "payback" Kenney for his campaign contributions.
Tom Polanski January 10, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Who donated to Tony Beall and Jerry Holloway's campaigns? Did they approve any contracts involving their donors?
Sharon Y. January 10, 2012 at 05:13 PM
DCDUDE, I live in the neighborhood and know for a fact that Christy Riley only supported one candidate in the last election...Jesse Petrilla. I drove by her home everyday and saw nothing but a "Jesse" sign in her front yard. Facts matter, please try to stick to the truth and drop the rumor mongering.
April Josephson January 10, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Sharon is right. Christy Riley only officially endorsed one candidate in the last election, and it wasn't anyone listed in DCDUDE's post. It seems that each time there's a story on this subject, someone new joins Patch just to post fictional information to deflect readers from the facts.


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