Crucial vote for Calexico council

December 31, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — At a special Wednesday meeting here, the City Council could vote to ignore the recommendations of the Planning Commission or face the threat of a lawsuit.

The either/or nature of the meeting was set after the city Planning Commission passed a resolution recently that asked the council to force the owners of land near the intersection of Bowker and Cole roads to build new homes on one of their land parcels instead of a mobile home/RV park.

In the same resolution, the commission recommended rejecting the landowners' plans for an industrial park on acreage near the intersection of Cole Road and Highway 98.

The landowners, who call themselves, the "Bravo Partners," have been trying to build the parks and a nearby housing development for four years.


The partners, represented by a San Diego lawyer and an El Centro development consultant, have given no indication they will budge.

One of the partners owns a San Diego/Tijuana electronics firm that could set up local operations in the industrial park.

Tom DuBose, the El Centro development consultant who drew up the plans for the two parks, has argued — a number of times at public meetings — that the landowners proposed building the respective parks because a 1998 city service area plan called for such developments.

Last spring the city hired San Diego development consultant Brian Mooney to update that service area plan.

One of Mooney's first recommendations: scrapping the partners' plans for the mobile home/RV and industrial parks.

Wednesday's meeting will be just the latest in a saga of public hearings and discussions concerning the partners' development plans.

Last summer, the partners sued the city after the City Council followed a Planning Commission recommendation requiring the partners to pay $200,000 for an environmental review of their plans.

After City Attorney Michael Rood looked over the lawsuit, the council reconsidered the environmental review requirement, overturning its decision and ignoring the recommendation of the commission.

The lawsuit was dropped.

If the council follows all the commission's most recent recommendations and approves a commission-tailored version of DuBose's plans, the partners could decide to follow the city's dictum or they could sue again.

If the council ignores the commission's recommendations — again — and allows the landowners to build the projects as proposed by DuBose, Mooney has warned the council the partners could wait for the land to be annexed, then sell.

Under that scenario, the land, which would likely spike higher in value if the city and county approve annexation, could be sold to unscrupulous developers who would not be required to build projects to the city's specifications.

Then there is the third choice before the council.

The council could approve stringent plans for a mobile home/RV park and industrial park that would guarantee the quality of the parks and require the partners to sell the land — if they sell — to someone intent on building projects to the city's requirements.

The Planning Commission rejected that proposal by a 3-2 vote, recommending instead plans for homes instead of the RV and industrial parks.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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