Friday, November 21, 2014 • 03:57
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Lilac Hills Ranch subcommittee approves letter



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Above, the Lilac Hills Ranch subcommittee voted to send a cover letter addressing the Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report (REIR) to the Valley Center Community Planning Group (VCCPG) for approval.
July 09, 2014
Members of the Lilac Hills Ranch Subcommittee voted to send a cover letter addressing the Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report (REIR) to the Valley Center Community Planning Group (VCCPG) for approval. If VCCPG approves the letter it will be sent on to the county along with public comments regarding Lilac Hills Ranch.

The letter covers issues with the REIR including general inconsistencies, hazards and hazardous materials, project alternatives, waste water treatment issues, and irreversible impacts. The subcommittee claims the REIR did not directly respond to the items addressed or failed to adequately respond to the issues raised.

"Our job was made a bit easier from last summer," said subcommittee chair Steve Hutchison who noted the letter is the same one VCCPG approved in 2013. "Changes to the plan were clearly marked, underlined or stricken out from the EIR."

The letter states that "the county failed to address comments on the inappropriate and inaccurate use of the Community Development Model cited in our General Plan Consistency comments. The Hazards comments related to the Fire Protection Plan and the Evacuation Plan are not completely or adequately addressed. The County failed to adequately explain the self-serving and simplistic Project Objectives and address our related comments."

The letter goes on to point out that the county "rejected a proposed alternative project with very little explanation relative to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 15126.6 which says an alternative site is allowed to be considered for projects and that the county failed to respond to "the rejection of fire service options proposed by the applicant as commented in our public services comments."

Other issues include the county's failure to address the feasibility of the wastewater alternatives and growth-inducing impacts cited by the group's comments, failure to address the phasing of the wastewater alternatives and inadequate response to the groups comments on the scope of change required in the general plan and the Valley Center Community Plan. "

During a meeting held June 16 neighbors of the proposed planned community came out in full force to oppose the project, saying that the project is being put in the wrong place and doesn't meet Valley Center's Community Development Plan. The opposition says there isn't the infrastructure to support the project that includes 1,371 single-family lots, 375 multi-family residential units within a town center and two smaller neighborhood centers. Also included in the plan is 90,000 square feet of commercial and office space within the 25.8 acre commercial and mixed-use area, a 12-acre public community park, private neighborhood parks, a 12-acre school site, a recycling facility to provide waste recycling for residents and businesses, and an on-site water reclamation facility.

Hutchison pointed out there were many problems with the REIR but that he believed the proposed project alternatives were a bigger issue.

"One section of this REIR, like its predecessor, the draft EIR, is that CEQA requires you to look at alternatives to the project. There are a number of alternatives, the first is the no project, no development alternative, the second would be to look at alternate locations," Hutchison said in an interview with The Valley Roadrunner. "One of the things they have failed to do in this revised draft is to consider seriously an alternative that we proposed last summer which is that it's inappropriate to put this project where they want to, perhaps it should be in another location like downtown Escondido where they created a specific plan area that basically surrounds the city hall where they want to add thousands of residences and do it in a way that makes the most sense."

Hutchison said the alternative location is close to Interstate 15, which is a requirement of the plan and has the infrastructure in place to support it.

"It has everything in place, fire, schools and it's close to transportation," Hutchison said. "The county on the other hand said they can't consider another site because the applicant doesn't own the site. Well, the applicant doesn't own the present site exclusively. There are a number of LLCs and such that own the site and the site is optioned, not owned. It's a screwy way of looking at it. I think that Escondido should be one of the alternatives but the county has disagreed."

The Lilac Hills Ranch project is still open for public comment. Public comments can be made by submitting a letter to Mark Slovick at the county prior to 4 p.m. on July 28. Slovick can be reached by email at Mark.Slovick@sdcounty.ca.gov or by mail at County of San Diego Department of Planning and Land Use, 5201 Ruffin Road, San Diego, CA 92123.

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