The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 March 4 to vacate three open space easements in Bonsall totaling 62.15 acres along with an 0.51-acre development restriction easement.
A motion to refund the fees Arie de Jong paid to the county to remove his easement dedication died for lack of a second.
“I think it should have been done administratively,” de Jong said. “A person shouldn’t have to pay to get his own property back.”
de Jong, through his company ADJ Holdings, LLC, had planned to build a 53-lot subdivision known as Hidden Hills on 131 acres between Dentro de Lomas Road, Little Gopher Canyon Road, and Old River Road. One of the conditions of the subdivision approval was to record three open space easements and a development restriction easement.
de Jong’s engineer forwarded the four easements to the county with the understanding that they would be held for recording just prior to or concurrent with the approval of the final map. The understanding was also that the easements would be vacated if the map was not approved.
On February 12, 2003, the county recorded all four of the easements. That day a meeting revealed that the original habitat loss permit had been based on 0.2 acres of mule fat scrub but that the amount of habitat loss had been increased to 2.16 acres due to the creation of a temporary dam by an on-site farming tenant. “I had to redesign the whole project,” de Jong said.
de Jong opted to abandon the Hidden Hills project but learned that the easement had already been recorded. “I had given away 61 acres,” he said.
de Jong still has eventual plans to subdivide the property. “I’ll wait until the economy gets a little better and maybe come up with another project,” he said.
The tentative map expired on February 28, 2004, and the property reverted to acreage. de Jong requested that the easements be vacated and originally was told that the process would cost approximately $25,000. de Jong sought to incorporate the easements into a clustered subdivision of 65 half-acre lots, but various changes in conditions over the past two years have led to the decision to abandon that proposal.
de Jong spent between $9,000 and $10,000 on the easement vacation process. “We’re just trying to get our land back,” he said. “We would just like to rectify this error.”
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