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Brisa Del Mar project to review density alternative in EIR

The proposed Brisa Del Mar residential subdivision in Bonsall currently calls for 20 residential lots and four biological open space lots, but during the new Environmental Impact Report (EIR) the project’s consultants will contemplate an alternative with densities based on the update of the county’s General Plan.

“We feel relatively confident that we can get this approved at the current density,” said Thure Stedt of TRS Consultants.

The property in the 7500 block of Camino Del Rey is owned by an entity called EWM Investments, LLC, and consists of 206 acres on 10 parcels. The site has been used as an equestrian facility with some agricultural activity having occurred, and currently the property contains two single-family residences, a horse barn, a horse track, and various utility buildings.

The intent is sell the lots as individual custom home sales, and phasing of the development is not currently proposed. One of the houses will remain on the property while the other house will be demolished. The northeastern section of the site has a man-made depression pond consisting of freshwater marsh; that pond will remain and water will continue to be pumped into it from a nearby stream to sustain its biological viability. An abandoned bridge, which provides access from Camino Del Rey across the floodplain from Moosa Creek, will be replaced by a new bridge that will span the wetlands.

The county’s Planning and Environmental Review Board certified the original EIR in August 1991. That EIR found significant flooding, biological resources, aesthetic, hydrogeology, and cultural resources effects which were mitigated by project design. In March 2010 the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use determined that a new EIR was needed due to changes in circumstances. Additional sensitive species, Resource Protection Ordinance, septic layout, fire access, and general plan update conformance information has been requested, and the updated EIR will also be required to include a climate change analysis.

The update of the county’s General Plan is expected to be heard by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors this fall. During an April 16 hearing by the county’s Planning Commission, Bonsall Sponsor Group chair Margarette Morgan expressed concern that county staff is recommending some clustering in Bonsall despite her community’s concerns.

Clustering allows for a larger open space area with smaller residential lot sizes than allowed under the zoning map. During Planning Commission hearings, the issues of smaller lots and potentially unmaintained open space created concern from community planning and sponsor group representatives. The Planning Commission’s recommendation is that clustering, also known as conservation subdivisions should not be allowed by right but would be allowed to be processed if they are consistent with community and other guidelines.

The Bonsall Community Plan allows for clustering in two areas.

“That’s not one of them,” Morgan said of the Brisa Del Mar site.

County staff had originally informed Morgan of plans to utilize a conservation subdivision for Brisa Del Mar, but that is not currently the case. “I got an apology for that,” Morgan said.

“What they’re going to do is not called a conservation subdivision,” Morgan said. “They’re just reducing the number of lots that are available for production.”

Stedt noted that the lots will be redesigned, but he does not expect that the change in boundaries will affect the total number of residential lots. The number of lots in the alternative reflecting the general plan update has yet to be determined.

The site includes both A70 Limited Agricultural and RR.25 and RR.5 Rural Residential zoning. The RR.25 zoning allows for one dwelling unit for every four acres while RR.5 zoning permits one unit per every two acres. All residential lots will be at least two acres, and all will meet the current density requirements.

Although the EIR will contemplate density based on the general plan’s update, in August 2003 the Board of Supervisors approved a pipelining policy allowing any project applications deemed complete as of that date to be processed under the provisions of the current general plan, while any applications submitted after that date would be governed by the general plan in effect at the time the parcel map or specific plan amendment is approved or disapproved.

“Under no circumstances will we have lot sizes that are not in keeping with the lot sizes around us,” Stedt said. “It will always be an estate development project.”

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