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Passerelle sent back to the drawing board

On November 17, the Fallbrook Community Planning Group (FCPG) made the decision to allow the American Lotus Buddhist Association to divide their 23.3-acre property into single-family dwelling units but continued a proposed specific plan amendment with a proposed tentative map, a general plan amendment and proposed rezone from Passerelle Development relating to the northeast corner of Interstate 15 and SR-76.

On behalf of the Buddhist Association, Hadley Johnson presented the FCPG with plans to subdivide the association’s 23.3 acres located between Rock Mountain and Gavilan Mountain roads into four lots for four single-family homes.

Neighbors of the property, including resident Archie McPhee, voiced concerns about the canyon near the property, explaining that it houses a known contributory stream to the Santa Margarita River, “acres” of coastal sage and various wild animals.

McPhee asked the board to recommend an environmental impact report be done on the property before any decisions are rendered.

FCPG members who visited the property said it would be difficult to build in the area and were concerned about the proposed dwellings’ close proximity to the street. According to the plan, the homes would be 60 feet from the road, an urban development standard.

Johnson said the homes would be set back 100 feet from the road if split-level homes were allowed, reducing the amount of grading needed. Board members agreed, saying the decision reduced the development’s footprint.

The board approved the subdivision with the understanding that the developers will not damage the surrounding canyon and will consider environmentally sound foundations.

The board was not as lenient with the Passerelle project, who presented various plans and charts detailing their proposed development that includes 259 single-family dwelling units, 555 multi-family dwelling units, professional offices, parks on 10.4 acres, open space on 217.7 acres and a town center on 7.8 acres.

The Passerelle representative indicated the changes made by the developer since a previous presentation in August.

One change was the decision not to build a road over a protected species habitat into the development, as well as the specific layout as to where every type of home would be built on the property.

The representative said Passerelle was “doing its part” to listen to the FCPG and make changes according to the recommendations.

However, FCPG Chair Jim Russell said Passerelle’s developers were not taking the FCPG’s recommendations into consideration and instead have gone straight to the county office to turn in plans.

Russell said many county project managers are not aware of the original conditions of the development. The only way to make the FCPG’s concerns heard, he said, was to make a “statement” about objections the group had.

FCPG member Harry Christiansen motioned to deny Passerelle’s request, citing that there were no reasonable assurances the developers could give about finding water and sewer sources to serve the development, the lack of planning for schools, transit nodes or community parking, and not coordinating with the surrounding developers about conflicting office and commercial locations.

Additionally, Christiansen believed there was no way for the FCPG to see the impact the housing would have on the area without a traffic study, which should have been given to the group at the meeting, even though the representative said recent changes made the current traffic study void.

Christiansen said Passerelle would use excessive grading, sizing, height and density in building the homes without providing sufficient parking, saying the rectification would be to have the smallest house be 6,000 square feet, as anything smaller would be the size of a “mobile home.”

The roadways planned for the project are unable to completely cross the development and there are no freeway on- and off-ramps planned, he said. He added that the only reason Passerelle was not building a road over the protected wetlands was because it was not cost-effective, not because of any environmental concerns.

Christiansen finished his motion by stating the developers had “ignored interest in creating a quality community.”

However, Eileen Delaney, FCPG chair of the Design Review Committee, said Christiansen’s remarks were “inflammatory” because Passerelle had made some significant changes to its roadways, was listening to recommendations and slowly making changes to the plan.

She also said there was no way for the FCPG to know Passerelle’s reason for not developing a road over the wetland, but that was not the FCPG’s concern.

After stating that the board appeared to be taking the developers’ proposals to a “personal, angry level,” Delaney recommended to continue the motion, which was approved.

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