Lilian Project takes step forward

RANCHO SANTA FE — On Feb. 5, the Association board approved the controversial “Lilian Project,” a mixed-use residential and commercial property to be located on El Tordo and Avenida de Acacias. The vote was 5-2 and came after three hours of public debate.
The Garden Club was filled with members of the community; some who supported the project and others who opposed it. Building Commissioner Robert Green gave a brief presentation outlining the plans and use of the property. Architect Allard Jansen, of Allard Jansen Architects, Inc., then gave a presentation, which confronted head-on many of the objections raised at the last Association board meeting three weeks ago. “Time and again I heard this question: ‘What value is this to the community?” Jansen said. He outlined what he felt were the benefits to the community: it will create a new paseo; it will create an experience similar to Paseo Delicias; and, ultimately, “It’s better than a parking lot,” he said.
Still, Association President Lois Jones had reservations. “Will it harmonize with the village?” she asked. “Is it the right size? Is it the best use of the land?” She said that the Association had received more than 50 letters concerning the project. “A copy of each was passed on to the board members,” she said.
The meeting was then opened to the public. Peter Janopaul was the first to step forward. A former member of the Planning Committee, Janopaul said he had watched the progression for the past three years and said he supported it.
A majority of the others in the Garden Club felt otherwise, primarily due to the construction woes the village would undergo for the next two years. Parking, or the lack thereof, also weighs heavily on the community. Bill McNally, of McNally Antiques, addressed his concerns about the lack of parking available in the Ranch. “Retail is hanging on by a thread,” he said. “I’m afraid people (businesses) will start failing.”
Bill Schlosser, a covenant resident since 1976, challenged the board of directors. “You have to look ahead,” Schlosser said. “Is this what the covenant wants? I don’t think so. This is ‘Lilian’ in name only. It is meaningless. This is huge. It doesn’t go with the character of the community. Don’t give away the farm.” He received applause of support.
The board of directors weighed the comments from the community before making their decisions. “The Art Jury is here to look after us” Director Deb Plummer said. “They approved this unanimously. I think it will be a positive addition.”
Director Bill Beckman concurred. “The applicant has scaled back,” he said. “It will be a beautiful and positive addition to the village.”
It was obvious a decision weighed heavily on Jones. She looked at the pluses and minuses of the project. In a statement prior to the final vote, she asked: Does it fit the community? Is it of appropriate size and bulk? Is it the intent of the zoning created back in 1928? Does the project enhance the community? Will it stimulate other commerce? In the end, Jones said she felt the project didn’t meet the requirements. “I am against it,” she told those gathered in the Garden Club. “The bulk is too big.”
The project will now proceed to the county of San Diego for approval.
The next Association meeting will be Feb. 19.

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