Every struggle has its battle cry. For Texans it was “Remember the Alamo! For Americans entering into World War I it was “The Yanks are Coming!” and for the homeowners of the old Escondido Country Club area who have drawn up battle lines to oppose the proposed General Plan Amendment by New Urban West, Inc. (NUWI), the cry “392 is too many!”
They are opposed to “The Villages by New Urban West Inc.” which is proposed for the 109 acres that once included the country club and its surrounding property. Members of ECCHO (Escondido Country Club Home Owners) are planning to turn out in their green ECCHO t-shirts to attend the city’s scoping meeting February 13, from 4:30 – 7 p.m. The meeting will be held at the City of Escondido, Mitchell Room, 210 N. Broadway.
The “392” they are referring to is The Villages – Escondido Country Club Project proposal, which consists of a General Plan Amendment to the Land Use Element, Zone Change, a Specific Plan, and Tentative Map for a 392-single family dwelling unit development project. The Project site is located in the northwest portion of the City of Escondido, along both sides of W. Country Club Lane west of Nutmeg Street, at 1800 W. Country Club Lane. It includes a now defunct golf course, which hasn’t been operated for several years, but which many members of ECCHO still have some hopes of reopening.
This is the property that developer Michael Schlesinger of “Stuck in the Rough” once fought over with the Country Club area residents when he unsuccessfully attempted to pass Prop. H, which would have authorized 420 homes on the former golf course. He lost that electoral battle just over two years ago by a wide margin — but later won a court judgment when the city attempted to put his land into permanent open space. Schlesinger and the city agreed that he would turn over development of his property to NUWI, with the stipulation that he would have no say over how it was done. However, he would be able to cash the check for selling the property to NUWI if their plans are approved.
The proposed project is on 109 acres whose existing land use map and zoning designation allows for single-family development, with a minimum lot size of 7,000 square feet.
The General Plan Amendment and Zone change request would create a Specific Plan for this area. The new land uses proposed for the Villages Specific Plan Area include three single-family residential villages; an open space system; and a clubhouse area with recreational, social and farm amenities. The Specific Plan would consist of new zoning standards and design guidelines.
City staff has prepared an Initial Study that complies with Section 15063 of the CEQA Guidelines. Based on its results, the city will prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) to assess impacts associated with air quality, aesthetics, biological resources, cultural resources/ tribal resources, geology and soils, greenhouse gas emissions, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology/water quality, land use and planning, noise, public services, transportation/traffic and utilities and services.
In a recent mailing to its members ECCHO issued a call to arms: “This is your opportunity to submit your concerns with the project . . . Basically, this is your opportunity to speak to the many concerns we have (be specific), why 392 dwelling units (yes, this includes condos!) are too many for our neighborhood to support, and why! This is our chance to let the City know why this is a bad project for ECC, and why they should not approve this project! We must send a message to the City Council that our community will not stand for a development that is not in keeping with the historic nature of our neighborhood and that will negatively impact the area in so many ways.”
On its website NUWI notes that the plan “is based on the input of more than 1,000 Country Club residents over the past nine months,” and a NUWI spokesman told the Times-Advocates several weeks ago, “Our plan includes more open space, more parks, more trails and fewer homes than what was included in Proposition-H a couple years ago.”
Although some ECCHO members have said they believe they see Schlesinger’s’ fingerprints in NUWI’s proposal, the agreement between the city and Schlesinger legally prohibits him from being involved in any of the planning or development of the project, although he does remain the legal owner of the property.
The information and comments received at the February 13 scoping meeting will be considered in the preparation of the environmental documents and become part of the record. Comments for the Notice of Preparation (NOP) for this Project must be sent at the earliest possible date but no later than 5:00 P.M. PST on Friday, February 24, 2017.
People interested in finding out more about this project can contact Planner, Kristin Blackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-839-4543.