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Residents oppose E.C. subdivision

November 20, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

A loose coalition of south El Centro residents is opposing the development of 120 acres of farmland into 465 single-family residences, claiming the subdivision would forever change the rural lifestyle of the area.

Members of Keep Clark Road Country showed up in force at a city Planning Commission meeting two weeks ago to state their objections to the project.

Lorraine Johnson, chairwoman of the group, said the group's main objection is the inadequacy of the final environmental impact report.

Johnson said there are a number of impacts that concern local residents, including the increase in traffic, an increase in the number of students at McCabe Union School District, and the loss of the area's rural character. There also are concerns on how the development's location will affect the city's water treatment facility, the city Police Department's weapons range, an Imperial Irrigation District electrical substation and the El Centro Equestrian Center.

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Johnson said the EIR fails to address expected traffic impacts along Clark and that none of the development's traffic can be routed onto Imperial Avenue because there is no overpass on Imperial across Interstate 8.

The subdivision, Buena Vista Park, is proposed by former Holtville resident Brent Grizzle. He did not return calls seeking comment.

The project would be shaped like an upside down L, with the main east/west portion on 80 acres, and a 40-acre parcel attached at the easternmost side. The northern boundary would be the city's water treatment plant, police weapons range, an Imperial Irrigation District electrical substation and the El Centro Equestrian Center. The eastern boundary would be Clark Road. The southern boundary is described as Palmview Avenue, an existing ditch, rural residences and farmland. The western boundary is defined as Imperial Avenue to the north and Cypress Drive west to the south.

The EIR says a total of 4,450 average daily trips will come from the project. During the morning rush hour, the project would generate 260 outbound trips and 85 inbound, while during the afternoon rush hour there would be 300 inbound and 170 outbound.

A table listing the impacts of the project says there would be no significant impacts from the project on land use/community character, traffic, agricultural lands, air quality, biological resources or growth inducement.

It says there would be significant — but mitigable — impacts to public services/utilities, hydrology/flood control, geology/soils, public safety and cumulative impacts on Horne Road at Highway 86 due to a decrease in the level of service. The EIR says the only alternative that would further reduce the project's impacts would be no project, or in the case of the traffic, a reduced project.

There also would be financial impacts to the city and growth impacts to McCabe Union School District that would necessitate a new campus, according to the EIR.

The EIR says the project would result in 279 elementary school students and 65 high school students, but that the increases would be covered by development impact fees.

Not so, according to a Jan. 4 letter from McCabe Superintendent Dan Eddins — referencing a the latest developer fee study. It says: "The cost impact on the McCabe Union Elementary School District imposed by new students to be generated from new residential, commercial and industrial development is greater than the maximum allowable fees."

Regarding the net fiscal impact to the city, the EIR says for the first four years, the development is estimated to be fiscally positive until year five of the phasing, where upon road maintenance would render it fiscally negative.

"Upon factoring in road maintenance, the development would represent a fiscal loss to the city of approximately $77,000 per year," the EIR states.

Nevertheless, the EIR states the purpose of the project is to provide needed quality single-family housing for the increasing population of the city of El Centro.

The minimum lot size would be 6,000 square feet, with the majority between 6,200 and 6,700 square feet, the EIR states.

The project requires the approval by the Local Agency Formation Commission for annexation to the city of El Centro, approval of a zoning reclassification by the El Centro City Council, approval by the city of the tentative subdivision map and a review of flood control and holding basins by the city and the Imperial Irrigation District.

The project is set to go before the city Planning Commission on Dec. 4.

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

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