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Housing project hearings, Walgreens permit on agenda

July 17, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The El Centro City Council will again stage three public hearings on whether it should approve three housing projects that could bring 325 new homes to the west side of the city.

The development is envisioned on 162.6 acres on four parcels of land. On three of the parcels single-family residences would be built. The fourth parcel is slated to remain under agricultural production for the immediate future with no existing plans for its development. The area under consideration lies north of Ross Avenue, east of Austin Road, south of an extension of Orange Avenue and west of the Lotus Drain. The projects are the so-called Desert Estates West, with 83 homes on 21.5 acres; Wildflower El Centro, with 115 homes on about 32 acres; and Santa Rosa, with 127 homes on about 40 acres.

The public hearings are set to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The City Council meets in open session at 6:30 p.m. at 1275 Main St.

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The council first addressed the housing projects at its June 20 meeting when it sent the matter back to city staff and the developers to work out several issues. Those include how the extension of Orange will be built in the new development to its full 84 feet width without impacting an existing sewage treatment plant and an existing residential driveway while including curbs, a sidewalk, turn pocket and parkway.

Other issues to be resolved included specifics on what type of barriers are intended to be used to block off the existing Haskell Drive and Sunset Drive from new traffic and the need for a city park somewhere on the three parcels, not to be combined with a water retention basin. The issue of what to do about the Lotus Canal and Lotus Drain also were to be resolved

At that same June meeting, the council approved the final environmental impact report for the western annexation, pre-zone and tentative subdivision maps for the housing projects.

In other business, the council is scheduled to have a public hearing to consider approving a conditional use permit for the location of a 14,490 square-foot, 24-hour Walgreens Drug Store on the northwest intersection of Main Street and Imperial Avenue. The building would be constructed on the north half of the property and have 61 parking spaces on the south and west sides, with access from Main and Imperial.

The project was approved by the city Planning Commission on May 1, and a negative environmental declaration is expected as the city has determined the project will not cause any substantial harm to the physical environment.

The Four Seasons Buffet & Grill would make way for the drug store.

In a further public hearing, the council will consider applying liens against 30 properties from which the city removed material considered nuisances, such as weeds, grasses, dead trees or shrubs. The removals were part of the city's nuisance abatement program. The property assessment will be forwarded to the county for recording. The hearing is tentatively set for 8 p.m.

The City Council also:

· will hear a presentation on behalf of the El Centro Firefighters Association regarding safety, staffing levels and funding.

· is expected to award a $265,500 contract to Imperial-based Castillo Construction Co. to design and construct a city public works administration and warehouse building.

· will be asked to approve a $99,042 state grant to the city Police Department to identify and assist in the prosecution of career criminals throughout the Imperial Valley. The grant does not require matching funds, according to the city staff report.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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