Representatives of F.S. Bravo Partners had asked the council to consider approving the projects that night instead of sending them back to the Planning Commission.
The completion of an environmental review could have delayed construction on the projects for 12 months or more. The appearance before the Planning Commission will delay the projects a month at the least but could delay them longer, depending on the action taken by the commission.
The council's certification of its earlier decision waiving the review requirement was taken despite objections from members of City Councilman Javier Alatorre and the public.
Alatorre was the lone vote to deny certification of the mitigated negative declaration that allows the landowners to move forward without a full review.
At the end of the hearing, Alatorre asked if there was fiscal documentation as to how the project would affect the city's general fund. Since that information was not yet available Alatorre said he opposed the certification.
After the vote, the council discussed the final approval process for the projects.
Councilman Frank Montoya asked City Attorney Michael Rood if the council should allow the Planning Commission to review the tentative maps before the council decides whether to finally approve the projects.
"I'm going to skirt this one if I can," Rood said. "I think the council should hear from the planning director."
City Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa recommended forcing the landowners and their consultants to bring before the Planning Commission the projects' final tentative maps and pending informational items such as the summary fiscal analysis.
After Mayor Pro Tem John Renison made a motion to require the landowners to appear at a Planning Commission hearing on Dec. 17 to present those items, El Centro development consultant Tom DuBose took to the podium to make a last-ditch plea.
DuBose said there have already been plenty of hearings.
"This is in your court and we'd like to keep it here," he said.
Renison responded, "My motion stands."
The council voted unanimously to send the projects to the Planning Commission.
Earlier in the public hearing, city Planning Commissioner Richard Romero spoke against the projects.
He said the city should require a full environmental review, including a fiscal analysis. He expressed concern that the city would not be able to pay for services such as fire and police protection to the community as a whole if the projects negatively affects the general fund.
Romero also had problems with the layout of the projects.
"You have industrial, commercial, mobile homes and substandard lots. Is that what you want?" he asked.
He said the mobile home/RV park would act as a buffer to future growth toward the east.
Real estate agent Blanca Lopez followed Romero at the podium and expressed her concern with the size of the lots for the Rodiles family's planned 80 acres of homes.
Unofficial maps of the Rodiles project show new homes planned for 4,500-square-foot lots. The city requires developers to build on 6,000-square-foot lots unless the developer provides special amenities.
Earlier in the meeting, Councilman Gilbert Grijalva had called for his colleagues to have an "open mind" regarding the size of the lots.
Lopez addressed Grijalva specifically. She said people who buy homes on smaller lots "don't get the benefit."
DuBose said the new homes would meld smoothly with the new and under-construction homes off of Cole and Meadows roads.
He said the landowners had no problem with the required mitigation measures or the creation of a special assessment district.
"We had that in the original plan," he said.
The engineer for the Rodiles' family, Clint Hale, had concerns with some of the wording of the mitigated negative declaration. Rood will work with Hale to iron out the verbage before it is officially certified.
>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or email@example.com