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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Planning Commission recommends Newland Sierra approval


Last updated 7/14/2018 at 3pm

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has the authority to approve or deny a specific plan, general plan amendment, rezone, and tentative map for the proposed Newland Sierra development, but the county's Planning Commission recommended that the project be approved.

A 6-1 Planning Commission vote June 28, with Michael Beck opposed, recommended approval of the project which is considered the successor to the Stonegate Merriam Mountains proposal rejected by the Board of Supervisors in 2010.

The Merriam Mountains proposal included 2,700 dwelling units of various housing types. Newland Sierra calls for 2,135 dwelling units. The residential density is reduced from 1.16 dwelling units per acre to 1.08 units per acre, the total acreage involved is decreased from 2,237 to 1,985, the planned commercial square footage is reduced from 110,000 to 81,000, the grading footprint is decreased from 684 acres to 540 acres, the total grading is reduced from 13,300,000 cubic yards to 10,200,000 cubic yards, acreage for public and private parks is reduced from 89 to 36, on-site biological open space is increased from 51 percent to 61 percent of the project, and off-site biological open space is increased from 32 acres to 112 acres.

The Merriam Mountains version of the project called for residential estate homes in southern Bonsall and a biological open space buffer of 1,192 acres between the southern residential and commercial portion and the Bonsall neighborhood.

The Newland Sierra version designates those 97 Bonsall acres as open space, and the proposed general plan amendment would include changing the land use designation from Rural Lands 20 (one dwelling unit per 20 acres) to Open Space – Conservation while also amending the Bonsall Community Plan to reflect that change.

The original Merriam Mountains application was submitted in July 2003, and in October 2009 the Planning Commission voted 5-2 to recommend approval of the project. Three Board of Supervisors votes are required to approve a project, and Ron Roberts was unable to attend the December 9, 2009, hearing in which two of the county supervisors supported the project and two supervisors voted against the project. Roberts requested a reconsideration, although he eventually voted to deny the project on March 24, 2010.

Newland Sierra, LLC, submitted an application for the revised project in January 2015. A draft Environmental Impact Report was circulated for public review in 2017.

The Merriam Mountains plan included off-site intersection improvements for the ramps at Interstate 15 and Gopher Canyon Road. The Newland Sierra version calls for Transportation Impact Fee payments to address the cumulative impacts for that interchange.

The August 1, 2017 meeting of the Bonsall Sponsor Group included a 6-0 vote to recommend denial of the project. The sponsor group cited concerns regarding traffic along Twin Oaks Valley Road, fire protection, conformance to the county's general plan, safety, and planned on-site blasting.


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