Proposed development prompts concerns among residents

Proposed development prompts concerns among residents
Integral Communities Developer Matt Simmons (standing) and Vice President of Land Acquisition Gill Miltenberg (seated) talk to a resident after the meeting. More than 100 Eden Valley residents attended the EIR scoping meeting on July 10 to voice their concerns about the proposed Valiano project. Photo by Paige Nelson

REGION — Eden Valley residents are speaking out against a developer’s proposed plan to build 362 new homes in the area. 

More than 100 residents crowded at the Elfin Forest Fire Station on July 10 to voice their concerns about the potential negative effects of rezoning the 209-acre property.

Some long-time residents like Andrew McSparron are worried the new homes will severely increase traffic congestion and drive away wildlife in the area.

McSparron said the traffic will be “an absolute nightmare” because of its proximity to the construction site of Harmony Grove Village, a 742-home development adjacent to the property.

The property lies at the crossroads of Mount Whitney Road and Country Club Drive, the main north-south road in the area.

During the construction phase, the plan, as it is now, would utilize the two-lane road to import close to a million cubic yards of fill.

“We’ve seen tremendous changes occur in this valley throughout the years,” McSparron said. “It’s the scope of what they’re trying to do that bothers me.”

The proposed development, known as Valiano, would require a general plan amendment to rezone the property to half-acre lots, nearly tripling the density limit allowed in the current general plan.

At the meeting, developer Integral Communities outlined plans to build the gated community, which will include private trails, a swimming pool and a park.

“I find a sad irony in the name Integral Communities because it sounds like you’re going to integrate into us,” said Eden Valley resident Tom Voorhies. “A gated community is the antithesis of what we view our area.”

Voorhies said one of the main reasons he moved to the area was because of its rural community character and how it was originally zoned — as one and two acre lots.

Resident Andy Laderman said in addition to noise pollution and reduced air quality, the development will also obstruct property views for current residents.

“I believe if Integral Communities is willing to work with the community, we can establish a plan that suits the needs of this rural community,” Laderman said.

Oliver Smith, Chair of the Valley Center Planning Group, said the Valley Center community has run into similar problems with developers.

“I want this community to know they’re not alone,” Smith said, in reference to plans for a 1,742 home development in Valley Center.

Smith said he decided to attend the meeting to offer insight on environmental consequences county planners and residents might have otherwise overlooked.

“We haven’t even come close to formulating an opinion about the project,” County Planning Manager David Sibbet said during the meeting. “Nothing can really be said until the EIR goes through.”

The public is invited to submit commentary until the public review session ends July 19. After the draft EIR is completed, residents will have an additional 45 days to respond to the proposed findings.

Gill Miltenberg, vice president of land acquisition at Integral Communities, declined to comment on the project until the company issues an official press release.

“Projects like this are going to keep going, it’s a fact of the world,” Smith said. “We can’t stop progress—the best we can do is try to direct it.”

On July 11, the members of the San Dieguito Planning Group voted 8-0 to add several comments to the project’s Notice of Preparation, asking officials to answer a number of “inconsistencies” and concerns for the upcoming draft EIR.

 

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