Meeting Summary: Plan review now scheduled for October 17, 2001 unless submitted earlier. Density west of Butterfield Stage was increased by 55 new townhouses. The Planning Commission indicated not enough time to solve all of the problems of this project by the City Council on Tuesday, August 28, 2001.
WARNING!!!! The developer desperately wants the Roripaugh Plan to go before the City Council where it appears three members of the council would approve the project.
STAFF REPORT - PLANNING
CITY OF TEMECULA
August 15, 2001
Planning Application No. 94-0075 (Specific Plan)
Planning Application No. 94-0076 (EIR)
Planning Application No. 94-0073 (Annexation)
Planning Application No. 99-0298 (General Plan Amendment)
Planning Application No. 99-0299 (Development Agreement)
Planning Application No. 01-0230 (Tentative Tract Map 29353)
Planning Application No. 01-0253 (Tentative Tract Map 29661)
Prepared By: Saied Naaseh, Project Planner
RECOMMENDATION: The Community Development Department - Planning Division Staff recommends the Planning Commission:
1. Review and provide direction to staff
On September 12, 2000, the City Council directed staff to proceed with the processing of the Roripaugh Ranch Specific Plan and its annexation. This direction was based on the Ad hoc Committee’s findings that the fiscal impacts to the City’s budget from annexing this project would be negligible; and the formation of an assessment district for construction of Butterfield Stage Road, Murrieta Hot Springs Road, and Nicolas Road would be feasible and would benefit the City. On January 16, 2001 the City Council and the Planning Commission reviewed the proposed Roripaugh Specific Plan Land Use Map and provided direction to staff on a number of issues.
On April 24, 2001, the City Council directed staff to expedite the processing of the Roripaugh Specific Plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and bring it forward to the City Council on August 14, 2001. Staff prepared a Project Schedule to ensure timely processing in order to meet the City Council’s mandated hearing dates. This schedule was prepared with a commitment from the applicant that they would meet all deadlines in the schedule. Staff has provided routine Status Reports to the City Council since May 14, 2001 for every City Council meeting. On July 24th the City Council and the Planning Commission held a joint workshop and further provided staff direction to schedule the project for a City Council hearing on August 28th. Staff has held several other meetings since the Workshop including three neighborhood meetings, two subcommittee meetings, and several meetings with the applicant.
The developer has been constantly changing the Land Use Plan in order to propose a project that is able to fund all the necessary CFD improvements, meet the buffering requirements of the neighboring residents and the Subcommittee. The applicant’s consultants have been unable to prepare cohesive, complete, and consistent documents for staff to review in a timely manner because of these changes. Therefore, staff is unable to present a Staff Report for a Planning Commission decision. Resolving these concerns often requires many hours of discussions and negotiations between staff and the applicant. Due to tight timelines, staff and the applicant have not had a chance to resolve these outstanding issues. Staff is requesting the Planning Commission provide direction to staff based upon the information provided in the Staff Report and the Specific Plan which was submitted to staff on August 1st. The applicant’s consultant has included a disclaimer on the Specific Plan that some sections have not been updated due to time constraints.
The Specific Plan will provide the standards and guidelines for the development of 1721 residential units, a Village Core including 21.3 acres of neighborhood commercial, 300 apartments, 135 court-yard single family dwellings, and a 5 acre religious institution site within Planning Areas 11, 12, 27, and 29, 2 school sites, 2 park sites totaling approximately 23.6 acres, and approximately 222 acres of open space including natural open space, slopes, and drainage areas on approximately 807 acres (refer to Attachment 6 for the Land Use Plan).
The time schedule set by the City Council which required staff to present the project to City Council by August 28th has proven to be extremely difficult since the applicant’s consultants have not been able to continue to keep pace with the changing Land Use Plan and updating the project documents. These documents include the Specific Plan, EIR, the maps, Mitigation Monitoring Program, and the Response to Comments.
Consistency of the Specific Plan and the Environmental Documents
The above mentioned documents all need to be consistent with each other and within themselves in order for staff to bring them forward for a Planning Commission action. However, this has proved to be an impossible task for the applicant’s consultants since the project Land Use Plan and other features have been constantly changing. The applicant’s consultants have been unable to prepare cohesive, complete, and consistent documents for staff’s to review in a timely manner. As a result, staff has had a difficult time reviewing these inconsistent documents. In addition, when staff has requested changes to the documents, the applicant’s consultants have either refused to change the documents or have not had adequate time to address staff’s concerns. It should be noted that on some issues staff has given the applicant ample time to address the issues and still the applicant has chosen not to address the issues.
The subcommittee had the following recommendations regarding buffering and trails (refer to Attachment 5 for a complete listing of the recommendations from the Subcommittee).
v Buffering needs to be more equitable all around the site.
v East, approximately 30’ of landscaped open space with trails followed by 1-acre lots.
v South, approximately 30’ of landscaped open space with trails followed by 1-acre lots.
v West, Planning Area 28 will be removed from the Specific Plan. The buffering will shift to the west of PA 12. PA 12 should change to townhouses and PA 27 should change to single family dwellings. Shift density to PA 13 to maintain the total number of units.
v South of the Panhandle, add 25’ to 30’ of open space buffering. The landscaping in this area should transition from native landscaping to urban landscaping and screen the panhandle by mature trees.
The proposed Land Use Plan does not comply with all the Subcommittee recommendations. In addition, it should be noted that eliminating Planning Area 28 creates the need for new buffering for the area that is eliminated from the Specific Plan. Furthermore, the Subcommittee recommended that the project be consistent with the City’s efforts to provide regional trails. The developer should provide this connection from the proposed trail along Santa Gertrudis Creek to the UCR property.
This connection should be a multi-purpose trail with an under-crossing on Butterfield Stage Road and a trial head and watering area in the vicinity of Calle Contento. In addition, the MWD easement trail consistent with the City’s regional trails efforts needs to be provided. The applicant has not committed to the construction of these trials.
On August 2, 2001, a community meeting was held by staff to address the resident’s concerns regarding Nicolas Road. In addition, Attachment 1 is a letter from the residents that was provided to the City Clerk at the night of the Workshop. The following provides a summary of their concerns:
v The recent changes to the Land Use Plan were done without input from the community.
v The proposed buffering to the south and west of the 640 acres and south of the panhandle is not adequate. The project should provide a buffer all around the site consistent with the current lot sizes (2.5 acre minimum).
v Planning Area 27 should be single-family dwellings with minimum 1-acre lots.
v Nicolas Road should be a continuous 4-lane road with sidewalks, multi-purpose trails, and landscaping. The traffic study downplays the number of trips generated by the project on Nicolas Road. They do not want to be assessed for the future two lanes for the Nicolas Road ultimate width. They have been concerned for a long time that the City will start assessing them for the Nicolas Road improvements. They want something in writing from the City to guarantee that they will not have to pay future assessments.
v The safety of Nicolas Road cannot be guaranteed without sidewalks for the residents and the school children.
v The aesthetic impacts of Nicolas Road need to be mitigated with mature landscaping along Nicolas Road. The extension of this road has a life-style impact on the residents along this road.
v The construction traffic from the project should be diverted from Nicolas Road to Murrieta Hot Springs Road and Butterfield Stage Road.
v They were concerned about the urgency of the City Council to approve the project and they questioned the need for the “eastern bypass” which was cited by some council members as very important to the City.
v The safety of their vehicular access to Nicolas road was a concern. They have long horse trailers which would make it difficult for them to get out of their driveway and get up to the speed of the traffic traveling on Nicolas Road.
v They had concerns regarding how the existing driveways will be connected to Nicolas Road. They had great concern about the grade of their driveway again because they have long horse trailers.
v Impacts to Liefer Road and the intersection with Nicolas Road need to be addressed.
v They were not pleased that Calle Contento is proposed to be closed giving the folks over there a quiet neighborhood while all the traffic is being channeled through Nicolas Road.
Specific Plan Issues
The Specific plan document is not internally consistent and many of staff’s comments have not been incorporated into the latest Specific Plan draft. The Specific Plan is not consistent with the Response to Comments that the applicant’s consultant has prepared. For example, the Response to Comments refers to trails that are not proposed within the Specific Plan and some of the Land Uses for the Planning Areas in the Specific Plan are different than those referred to in the Response to Comments. This is the result of the constant changing of the project that has made it difficult for the applicant’s consultants to keep up with the changes.
Furthermore, the Specific Plan is not consistent with the EIR. For example, the EIR requires PA 30 to be Open Space if the developer does not submit a Habitat Management Plan signed by the appropriate resource agencies to the City. However, the Specific Plan proposes 55 single-family units. The following provides some of the issues related to the Specific Plan:
All of staff’s comments regarding architecture forward, treatment of the front of the buildings, garages, and rear and side elevation details have been ignored by the applicant. No specific Design Guidelines are proposed for the high density and medium density products. The panhandle area is proposed with neo-traditional design standards. However, the Design Guidelines Section does not contain standards for neo-traditional development.
Portions of this section are not consistent with the Land Use Plan. For example, detached single- family dwellings are not permitted in any of the zoning categories within the Specific Plan. Planning Area 30 is designated Medium Density and the Zoning Section classifies it as Very Low Density and provides no development standards for it.
The ALUC has not approved the elementary school site location in Planning Area 6 which is located within the 2 miles radius of the airport. Overriding the ALUC decisions requires a 2/3 vote of the City Council (4 out of 5 in favor). According to the School District, they do not have to comply with the ALUC decisions. In fact they already have several school sites that are within the 2 miles radius of the airport. According to the District, the only approval they need to have for school sites with the ALUC jurisdiction is from the State of California Department of Transportation, Aeronautics Division. They have already received this approval from the State on this school site; therefore, they plan to proceed with the construction of this school site if the City approves the project (refer to Attachment 7). However, the City must comply with the ALUC decisions or override their decision by the 2/3 votes of the City Council.
Private Recreational Areas and Trials
The project does not include private recreational areas for its future residents. In staff’s opinion, these amenities complement the City’s Public Park system. In addition, the Community Services Department is requiring the project to provide the following trails that have not been included in the Specific Plan:
v A trail on the south side of the panhandle within the open space area.
v An equestrian trail through the project.
v Public access to the trail along Long Valley Channel could be impacted if the “640 acre” area becomes a gated community.
v A Class I multi-use trail on the north side of Long Valley Channel from Butterfield Stage Road to the eastern boundary.
v A Class I multi-use trail from the western boundary at Nicolas Road to Butterfield Stage Road within Planning Area 27.
v An Equestrian trail along the eastern boundary of the project in Planning Areas 16 and 17.
v Six foot compacted soil or soil polymer trail within the fuel modification area along the southern edge of the project between Butterfield Stage Road and the eastern boundary.
v A Pedestrian/non-motorized vehicle undercrossing at Butterfield Stage Road.
v An off-site trail on the north side of Nicolas Road.
Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
The EIR has identified many mitigation measures that need to be complied with prior to approval of the tentative maps for the project. In staff’s opinion, this will be almost impossible. Staff has requested the applicant provide an action plan to comply with these mitigation measures; however, staff has not received a response from the applicant. The applicant’s consultant recently prepared the Response to Comments; however, those responses are not consistent with the latest proposal by the applicant. Again, the applicant’s consultants cannot keep up with the constant changes proposed by the applicant.
One of the mitigation measures in the EIR requires completion of 19 off-site intersection prior to issuance of building permits within different phases of the project. The applicant is proposing to pay their fair share of the 19 off-site intersection improvements. Then, the applicant would like the City to use those funds to help fund the construction of Butterfield Stage Road. If the 19 intersections are not improved by this project, other projects, or the City, they will operate at worse than LOD D. Staff has asked the developer to provide the City with an estimated cost of construction for each of these intersections. Staff has not received a response from the developer. In addition, the numerous project changes may require changes to the final EIR.
On August 1, 2001, the applicant and the City had reached an agreement on the funding for the fire station and the fire truck. The City collects a $1,500 per unit fee Development Agreement Fee which for this project would amount to approximately $2,600,000. The applicant would have received approximately $2,000,000 of credit towards the Development Agreement Fee for the partial funding of the fire station and the full funding of the fire truck. However, on August 9th, the applicant changed their position on this Agreement and is now requesting the City to pay for the pedestrian bridge, the permanent fire station, the fire truck, the temporary fire station, and the operations and maintenance cost of the temporary fire station for a total of $3,900,000. In addition, the applicant will not pay the Development Agreement fee. The Deal Points are included in Attachment 3.
Community Facilities District (CFD)
The finalization of the CFD is not critical to the approval of the project since the Development Agreement will not permit the developer to pull any building permits until the CFD is funded or other acceptable assurances are provided to staff that all the City’s high priority infrastructure improvements will be built. However, the developer has not fully agreed to the priority list of improvements the City has established. The City’s top priority is to complete a north-south thoroughfare along the Butterfield Stage Road alignment between Rancho California Road and Murrieta Hot Springs Road prior to funding any other legally eligible improvements (refer to Attachment 4).
The project includes an annexation request for approximately 640 acres (approximately 170-acre portion of the project is already located within the City). On June 26th, the City Council approved the Resolution of Intent to annex the 640-acre project area into the City. Staff filed the LAFCO application on June 28th. The expected LAFCO hearing is October 25th. If the City Council approves the Specific Plan, the effective date of the annexation of the project area is approximately November 9th. The Community Facilities District (CFD) funding is contingent upon the effective date of the annexation.
General Plan Amendment
Amendments to the Land Use and Circulation elements of the City’s General Plan will be necessary to implement this project. A General Plan Amendment to the Land Use Element will provide a consistent land use pattern with the proposed Specific Plan. A General Plan Amendment to the Circulation Element will eliminate Calle Contento as a through General Plan road.
Two tentative maps have been filed. The “A” map is essentially a conveyance map, dividing the property into large parcels. The “B” map includes the panhandle area and is proposing 452 residential lots and 6 open space lots. The minimum lot size is 5,000 square feet with average lot sizes of 6088 square feet. The map also includes a 3-acre neighborhood park and a 12-acre elementary school site. Staff has had to review the proposed tentative maps without the benefit of a complete Specific Plan.
Staff has met with the School District to discuss the circulation around the school sites. As a result, the School District has modified their conceptual plan to provide for better circulation around the school. Staff has concerns regarding lots fronting the school site; therefore, creating a potential conflict with the school related traffic. However, while the situation is not ideal, in staff’s opinion it is acceptable. In addition, staff has concerns about lots 108, 377, and 378 that front the access streets that connect this project to Murrieta Hot Springs Road. A potential conflict could arise with the residents on these lots backing up into the local street with the traffic turning into these streets from Murrieta Hot Springs Road.
Staff is also concerned about the lack of private recreational facilities, such as tennis courts or a community pool, that are not proposed within this tract. In addition, staff is concerned about the lack of off-street paseos connecting the residential areas to the school site. A “maintenance bench” is proposed along the open space area surrounding the panhandle. A Homeowners Association (HOA) maintained trail could be feasible at this location. Staff’s other concern is a 40’ wide strip of unimproved land that is between the southerly boundary of Murrieta Hot Springs Road and the project boundary. The developer does not own this area which is actually outside the City Limits. This area will be left without landscaping if the developer does not secure the rights for the property and install landscaping. Staff would like to include some language in the Specific Plan and the Development Agreement to improve this area with landscaping if the developer obtains the rights to the property from the existing owner.
Despite staff and the applicant’s efforts to finalize the project documents for Planning Commission action, the documents still need to be refined to make them internally consistent, consistent with the other documents for the project, and written to the standards of City of Temecula. Many unresolved issues remain that need to be addressed by the applicant and staff. Therefore, staff is requesting the Planning Commission provide direction to staff in regard to the further processing of the project. In addition, the applicant needs to meet with the surrounding residents to address their concerns regarding the project.
Staff would like to receive direction from the Planning Commission on the following:
· Neighborhood Concerns
· Zoning Section
· Development Agreement
· Improvements to the 19 Off Site intersections
· The trail on the south side of the Panhandle
· The lack of extended Landscaped Development Zones (LDZs) along Nicholas Road, the Loop Road, and portions of Murrieta Hot Springs Road.
· Curb Separated sidewalks on residential streets maintained by the HOA (including the parkway)
· Additional specific public transit improvements.
· Private recreational facilities
· Design Guidelines
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