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Calexico votes 4-0 for EIR on development project

could cost owners millions

May 02, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Four votes by the Calexico City Council could cost local landowners and their partners millions of dollars.

The vote was important because a land sale, now in escrow, is contingent on fast-track approval of a proposed development project planned for 324 acres of farmland in the northeast corner of town.

If the project is not approved by the city by the middle of June, the international electronics firm owner interested in buying the land from local landowners plans on moving the project somewhere else, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

If he does move his project, the housing projects planned in conjunction with his proposed industrial park could be in jeopardy.


The City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday to require the project, called the Bravo Partners/Rodiles development project, to have an environmental impact review.

An EIR usually takes four to six months. That means the deadline imposed by the electronics firm could expire before the EIR is completed.

Ricardo Hinojosa, the city's planning director, said the EIR is required because the city has concerns with the project that had not been mitigated.

Tom DuBose, an El Centro development consultant working on the project, asked for a chance to explain at a future hearing why the project does not need an EIR and could be approved right away.

Mayor Victor Carrillo read from the minutes of a city Planning Commission meeting at which DuBose explained his case to the Planning Commission.

Carrillo noted that all of the commissioners voted to require the EIR and gave DuBose a chance to make his case then.

Councilman Javier Alatorre showed empathy to the concerns of DuBose and the attorney for the partners, Jerry Michael Suppa, but voted with the rest of the council.

"I just want to make a comment. I support the Planning Commission. That's why we have city staff," Alatorre said.

Alatorre said he thought it was possible the partners could sue the city to get the project approved before June "… but we're always worried about lawsuits."

Later in the meeting the council had a public hearing concerning the city's buses.

Carrillo started the hearing by apologizing to Luis Castro, the owner of the two bus lines in the city, for a comment by former City Council candidate and local businessman David Ouzan.

Ouzan contended the City Council was discussing the "no standing" on buses ordinance because some council members have used Castro's buses to advertise their campaigns.

"I am surprised at a comment like that," Carrillo said.

He added: "No one on the City Council has ever commented at the signage (of Ouzan's 99-Cent Store) or the quality of his merchandise."

Carrillo said the council was looking at the issue because it is the "democratic process" and didn't appreciate innuendoes of favoritism.

"That sounds like the old Calexico," he said.

During testimony in favor of allowing standing on his buses, Castro said standing would be minimal and only during certain busy times.

"It offers the citizens of Calexico a service," Castro said.

Alatorre was the only council member not to vote for a revision of the ordinance to allow standing on buses.

He said changing the ordinance doesn't benefit the city and would increase the likelihood of injury.

"What if it is my mother riding on one of those buses?" he asked.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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