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Planners say Lilac Hills Ranch EIR has major 'holes'


August 14, 2013
The Valley Center Planning Group Monday voted 11-1 (Glavinic voting no) to forward a scathing criticism of the draft environmental impact report (DEIR) for the Accretive Group's proposed Lilac Hills Ranch to the County.

Planning Group Chairman Oliver Smith noted that his group — several of whom worked against time to meet the 45 days given for public comments — had uncovered "major holes" in the EIR as well as many "self-serving" comments made by Accretive to try to cover over those holes. Apparently these "gaps" were not discovered by county staffers, said Smith.

Smith said in his opinion this contradicted the notion that professional county planners know more than dedicated amateurs who are willing to do prepared and devote their time.

He added the group had done everything to excise emotions from its answer to the DEIR and to answer all of the proponents' assertions with facts.

Glavinic, the maverick of the group, said he agreed with many of the points made but couldn't support all of them, and thus voted against supporting the group's comments.

Key take-aways from the response the Planning Group approved Monday night:

• The project is leapfroging and therefore contrary to the good planning principles upon which the General Plan Update was based. It plops urban building densities into a rural agricultural area without appropriate existing infrastructure. A much better project alternative than any proposed is within the Downtown Escondido Specific Plan Area, says the review.

• In most major areas of the project, the rationale presented by the applicant is going to change the General Plan requirements to be aligned with what it wants to do. According to the group, this defeats the efforts by all who participated in the 12-year-long, $18 million county General Plan Update project that was approved by the Board of Supervisors only two years ago.

• It has been independently shown (the planning group says) that the circulation (roads) analyses provided by the applicant are seriously flawed and increase the difficulty and danger of the roads surrounding the project, for normal local driving as well as for emergency (wildfire) situations.

• The residential fire protection arguments made by the applicant are not consistent with those from the local fire protection agency responsible for plan approval and the inconsistencies were not noted by county staff, claims the group.

• According to the planners, the applicant talks a lot about developing a LEED ND (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - Neighborhood Development) community, but meets virtually none of the requirements that make a project LEED ND compliant.

Planning Chairman Oliver Smith told The Roadrunner, "The planning group hopes to work closely with the applicant and the County to resolve the serious flaws and discrepancies in the applicant's submission towards a project that would be welcomed in Valley Center."

Smith praised the planning members and community members who prepared the extensive report. "I wish to publicly acknowledge the time and effort put into the review process by a wide range of individuals from both Valley Center and those who reside outside of our fair community. I especially want to commend the subcommittee chair Steve Hutchinson for bringing the review elements together in an understandable and cohesive manner in less than the very limited 45 day comment period set by the County."

The vote allowed the group to get its comments in on time to meet the County's requirement that public comments be made before Aug. 19 at 4 p.m. The documents are available in the Valley Center Library as well as online for you to review. Comments can can also be emailed to mark.slovick@ sdcounty.ca.gov.

In other actions:

• The group approved sending a memo to County staff reminding it that as Lilac Ranch becomes open space rather than a SPA, Valley Center still needs to have an additional East West Road on the General Plan to allow better access into and out of the community, especially in the event of fire or other emergency.

• Planners endorsed a major use permit modification for AT&T Wireless to allow the replacement of a utility pole with antennae attached to it with a faux tree with 12 antennae. The facility is located at 26725 Lake Wohlford Road.

• The group approved of granting a permit to Mike LeBlanc of Tyler Road, who built an oversized garage/ workshop without a permit, and sought to rectify that mistake with an administrative permit.

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