The next big county development gunfight is shaping up just north of Escondido. On June 15 the EIR (environmental impact report,) all 8,000 pages of it, was released for the Newland Sierra Project, known in a former iteration as the Merriam Mountain development—which was rejected several years ago by the Board of Supervisors.
Written comments are due by August 14 at 4 p.m. and should be submitted to Ashley Smith by email at Ashley.firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to 5510 Overland Ave., Ste. 310, San Diego CA 92123.
The County will hold ONE public meeting to discuss the project, on July 18, at the San Marcos Community Services Dept. building, Community Hall, located at 3 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos, at 6 p.m.
The project is located in the community of Twin Oaks within the unincorporated portion of San Diego County, with Escondido and San Marcos to the south, Vista and Oceanside to the west, the unincorporated communities of Hidden Meadows and Valley Center to the east, and unincorporated Bonsall to the north.
Newland Sierra project would feature 2,135 homes built across seven distinct neighborhoods
1,209 acres of permanently preserved open space plus an additional 210 acres of off-site open space bringing the total open space set-aside to 72% of the property
19 miles of multi-use trails, bike paths and pathways
36 acres of community and neighborhood parks and community gardens to “promote healthy lifestyles and foster community stewardship.”
A community-serving retail center of 81,000 square feet would include a grocery store and other retail services and a
A K-8 school site.
Because the project would be inconsistent with the county General Plan it would require a General Plan Amendment.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires the preparation for an EIR and the inclusion of public comments after the EIR is released. CEQA also requires that the County staff respond to all comments that raise environmental issues in the final EIR.
Once the 60-day comment period is over, the Planning Commission will hold a hearing on the project.
The project is sure to be controversial. Newland is touting the project as “San Diego County’s first carbon neutral community.” However, opponents, among them the Golden Door Spa, claim that the project would require that ratepayers of the Vallecitos Water District cut their own supplies to accommodate it. They also assert that the project is entirely in an area the County has designated a “Very High Fire Hazard Security Zone” and that, because of the additional traffic the project would create, would create “gridlock during an evacuation.”
The opponents also claim that the project would require condemning some properties to make it possible to build a four Deer Springs Road. Currently that road winds through a rural enclave between San Marcos and I-15.