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Calexico: Landowners should pay for EIR on annexation

June 25, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — This city's Planning Commission voted unanimously to require a collection of landowners to pay for a focused environmental impact review of plans to annex a 128-acre chunk of land into the city.

The acreage is the former site of the Hartman-Williams feedlot.

The environmental review would be conducted by a firm selected by the city and paid for by the landowners. It could cost upward of $100,000. The review would examine how annexation would affect the city's coffers and how development would affect residents living near the former feedlot.

The commission's action to require the review will be appealed to the City Council by Phil Heald, one of about 15 landowners who own parcels within the 128-acre swath. Heald owns 40 acres near the spot where the railroad tracks cross the All-American Canal. The 128 acres is bordered on the north by Cole Road, on the west by Kloke Road, on the south by the All-American Canal and on the east by the railroad tracks.

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Heald will appeal the commission's action because he said landowners won't pay for an environmental review since most don't have any specific plans to develop the property.

Heald does have a plan and a buyer for his land.

Around two years ago, Heald came to the city asking to develop his 40 acres. The Planning Department told him it was bad policy for the city to consider just his 40 acres. Heald was told, according to Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa, that the city would prefer if the entire area around the Kloke and Cole intersection could be planned so the city could plan for big-rig traffic and build a loop to provide sewer and water service to the area.

Before the commission voted to require the environmental review, Heald told the commissioners, "We were assured that this is so needed and wanted that the city would help expedite moving this through."

The city's planning consultant, Brian Mooney of San Diego, gave the commission an option Monday that would have allowed it to do just that.

Mooney said the city could allow Heald to develop his property on a temporary basis while staff prepared a specific plan for the rest of the acreage. Mooney said Heald wants to put in a car recycling operation.

Heald had reportedly agreed to this "reasonable compromise" at an earlier meeting Monday with Mooney and Hinojosa. The Planning Commission didn't choose that option, however.

Commissioner Arturo Selwick said the city shouldn't think about annexing the land where the feedlot used to be, particularly when there is no specific development plan for most of the land. He said the county should keep the land and deal with it.

Heald told Selwick the land looks like it is part of Calexico and needs to be dealt with by the city. Selwick said the commission wouldn't be acting in a prudent manner if it didn't require an environmental review and a fiscal analysis of the proposed annexation.

"The cost (of cleaning up the former feedlot property) to the city might be millions and millions," he said.

Heald told Selwick the cost of cleaning the land would be borne by the landowners or future developers, not the city.

If the City Council backs up the Planning Commission and rejects Heald's pending appeal, and, if Heald and the landowners pay for an environmental review, the review would include a fiscal analysis that would provide Selwick and others on the commission with the financial data they wanted to see.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or aclaverie@aol.com

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