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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Lilac Hills Ranch project headed to Board of Supervisors


Last updated 6/16/2018 at 5:26pm

The county's Planning Commission has determined that the current version of Accretive Investments' proposed Lilac Hills Ranch development does not have significant changes from when the Planning Commission heard the project in 2015 and that no new full Planning Commission hearing was needed.

The Planning Commission's 5-0 vote June 8, with Michael Beck and Doug Barnhart absent, sends the project to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing. Public testimony at the preliminary hearing was limited to whether any substantial changes warranted a full hearing.

In September 2015 the Planning Commission voted 4-3 to recommend with conditions the approval of the general plan amendment, specific plan, rezone, tentative map, major use permit, and habitat loss plan for 608 acres on the Bonsall/Valley Center/Escondido border.

That project proposed 1,746 residences consisting of 903 single-family detached homes, 164 single-family attached homes, 211 mixed-use residential units, and 468 age-restricted dwellings within a neighborhood designated for senior citizens along with 90,000 square feet of commercial office space, a 50-room country inn, a 200-bed group care facility, a recycling facility, a water reclamation facility, a new fire station if not a remodel of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's existing Miller Station, a site for a K-8 elementary school, 13.5 acres of public parks, 11.5 acres of private parks, and 104 acres of biological open space.

Accretive also proposed a general plan amendment to change the land use category from Semi-Rural to Village while revising the Valley Center and Bonsall community plan texts to add the proposed village.

The Planning Commission's conditions included the necessary funding to build a new fire station or expand the existing Miller station, a community facilities district to fund a three-person crew at the fire station, providing the land and funding the construction of a new elementary school at a location to be determined, a 30-foot buffer on West Lilac Road with a 2.2C classification (2.2C has an eight-foot shoulder, 2.2F has a two-foot shoulder), treatment plant improvements to be made no later than the first 100 homes, the commercial village to be built no later than completion of the first 1,000 homes, and a 25 mph design speed on Mountain Ridge Road.

The property borders the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District and the Bonsall Unified School District. Since most of the development in the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District would be age-restricted, the majority of school-age children in the Lilac Hills Ranch area would be in the Bonsall Unified School District.

Because a general plan amendment, specific plan, and rezone are involved the proposal must be approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, which requires three votes in favor.

The Fair Political Practices Commission issued an opinion that Supervisor Bill Horn was required to recuse himself because of the proximity of Lilac Hills Ranch to the property he owns. Accretive was uncertain whether the 2015 proposal would receive the support of three of the other four supervisors and opted to collect signatures to place Lilac Hills Ranch on the ballot as an initiative. Because measures approved by a voter initiative can only be modified by another ballot measure, some of the Planning Commission conditions were omitted to maximize flexibility.

Accretive sought 10 waivers from county road standards, which would not have required any eminent domain, and the county's Department of Planning and Development Services (PDS) was supportive of seven. The ballot measure included all 10 waivers. The initiative was also circulated prior to August 2016, when the Bonsall Unified School District approved a school facilities agreement between Accretive and the school district which includes the requirement for Accretive to build an elementary school, so Proposition B did not include that agreement.

The county's voters rejected Proposition B in the November 2016 election. That election also replaced Supervisor Dave Roberts with Kristin Gaspar. Gaspar subsequently appointed Michael Edwards to the Planning Commission to replace Peder Norby, who cast one of the votes against recommending approval of the project.

The 2015 Environmental Impact Report found that some significant impacts could not be mitigated, although PDS staff recommended a finding of overriding considerations including the school site, recreational benefits, and low-income and moderate-income housing along with the tax revenue and employment economic benefits. That EIR might be suitable for the new project if no additional impacts are identified.

The agreement with the Bonsall Unified School District to build an elementary school, in conjunction with the Planning Commission condition for Accretive to provide the land and fund the construction of a school, means that the 2017 retirement of BUSD superintendent Justin Cunningham and the selection of David Jones as his replacement does not constitute a substantial change.

During the Planning Commission's March 23 meeting the commissioners voted 6-0, with Beck absent, to have a hearing at a regular or special meeting which would determine whether substantial changes to the previous proposal exist and would require a full hearing.


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