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BUSD authorizes EIR for planned Bonsall High School site


Last updated 8/20/2017 at Noon

The Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) will undertake an Environmental Impact Report for the Gird Road site planned for the new Bonsall High School.

A recent 5-0 BUSD board vote authorized Environmental Studies Associates to produce an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). In January, the board had approved a contract with ESA for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) services, which included a maximum payment of $65,000 if only a Mitigated Negative Declaration was required and $98,000 if an EIR was prepared, so the estimated $37,500 cost to prepare the EIR had previously been authorized.

Previously-completed technical studies included a Phase 1 environmental site assessment, an environmental hazards evaluation, a biological resources assessment, a preliminary geohazard and geotechnical report, and a traffic report. All of the CEQA categories included findings of less than significant impact, so the initial plan was for the preparation of a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND).

Both an EIR and an MND include a public review and comment process, and an opponent of a project has the right to file a lawsuit claiming that an MND is inadequate and that an EIR is required, so the school district opted against the MND.

"We anticipated that the opposition would want to oppose," said Justin Cunningham, who was the BUSD superintendent prior to his retirement

July 31.

Other factors also made an EIR advantageous for the school district. Three Native American tribes have asked for government-to-government consultation, so the EIR will address Luiseno and other cultural or archeological resources.

The EIR can also be used as the basis for another project should the school district choose another location for the high school. That would provide assurances for potential purchasers of the Gird Road site who desire to build housing, and if the school district wishes to collaborate with Palomar College construction courses on building homes on the site (in the late 1970s Santana High School had a building construction class which built homes on lots owned by the Grossmont Union High School District) that development would be subject to CEQA review, although not to county zoning laws if the school district owns the property when the housing is built.

"It's basically looking at what can be built there and how much of the property can be used," Cunningham said.


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