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Review of Esc. Country Club project begins

The City of Escondido June 28 released for public review the proposed “Villages” project in the Escondido Country Club and golf course area.

The 4,800-page draft EIR will be available for public review for 45 days from that date. All available infmation, the Draft EIR, and a periodic E-Newsletter providing updates are available using the following link: www.escondido.org/ecc.aspx 

Anyone can review a copy at the City Planning Division counter during regular business hours.   Or, a printed copy can be purchased from the City Planning Division.

One purpose of the Draft EIR is to address concerns raised by the public in letters and emails sent to the City Planning Division at the time of the Public Scoping Meetings in February 2017.

The proponent, New Urban West—which calls the project a “compromise plan”—notes that their plan is “one third fewer than allowed under the current city general plan.” That’s 392 homes, instead of 600.

The plan calls for three residential villages, a new $10 million clubhouse with a pool and fitness center along with a neighborhood restaurant and bar, an urban farm and the preservation of 44% percent of the property as permanent open space.

“We spent more than a year meeting with and listening to hundreds of country club residents,” said officials at New Urban West. “Together, we crafted a balanced, financially viable plan that will restore the once-held prestige of the area, deliver new amenities such as a 29-acre green belt with four miles of walking trails, as well as a brand-new park system, and it will enhance property values, which have suffered ever since the golf course and clubhouse were boarded up more than four years ago.”

NUW calls its project the “largest solar powered project in Escondido,” with all of the homes being solar powered. “In doing so, NUW will prevent nearly 17,000 metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of carbon emissions generated by over 40,000,000 vehicle miles traveled, or taking more than 4,000 cars off the road over the life of the project.”

NUW has also proposed what it calls a “comprehensive plan to address current and future road circulation issues in the community. It includes the addition of roundabouts along Country Club Lane, the widening of vehicle lanes, the installation of synchronized traffic signals, the creation of designated bicycle lanes, and the construction of a new southbound freeway on-ramp at I-15 and El Norte Parkway.”

ECCHO (Escondido Country Club Home Owners) is calling the project a “massive housing development proposal.”

In a letter to ECCHO members, ECCHO president Mike Slater wrote last week, “The developer has started a letter writing campaign in support of the massive housing development. The ECCHO community needs to remind all of the City Council members that we do not support this proposed massive housing development project by writing letters and sending e-mails to the City Council.” He added, “We cannot tell our position to the City Council or Planning Department often enough between now and August 11, 2017!”

ECCHO’s next meeting will be July 25, 5:45 p.m. at the Life Church.

However, ECCHO doesn’t represent all of the homeowners of the Country Club area. A year ago, a group favoring working with NUW formed, ROCC (Renew Our Country Club) was formed, and has grown from about a dozen homeowners then to 250 today, according to Mike Finsterbusch, a founding member.

“We are thrilled that New Urban West is going to such great lengths to address the traffic circulation problems we have here today and to also accommodate our future neighbors,” Finsterbusch was quoted in the press release. “They have not just listened to our ideas, they have acted on them.”

Finsterbusch commented on the growing numbers of ROCC. “The call for action is definitely growing louder, as evidenced by the swell of residents who are joining our group. Our community has looked run-down for years, and people are just tired of the blight. More importantly, we’re all excited because this is the right plan and the time is right.”

In 2013, the golf course and clubhouse closed because of poor financial performance, due in part to the local and national decline of golf. Since then the community has become blighted. “The once popular clubhouse, for example, has become a den for gang activity, drug use and homelessness,” said Miles Grimes another founding member of ROCC.

NUWI claims that in the last month 104 more residents signed cards supporting the proposal, which is expected to be considered by the Escondido Planning Commission and City Council this fall.

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