Ramona planning group supports Montecito Ranch grading, blasting changes
By Karen Brainard
After reviewing a revised map for the proposed Montecito Ranch project that shows a reduction in grading and blasting, Ramona Community Planning Group supported the changes by a 10-2 vote at its Jan. 9 meeting.
Consultant Chris Brown said the modifications are internal to the project and do not affect any of the amenities.
The 935.2-acre residential development will be built south of State Route 78, west of Ash Street, and north of Montecito Way, Summer Glen and Cedar Street.
While working on the project’s final map, the engineer saw more rock and found ways to avoid some of the rock and reduce blasting by about a third, said Brown. The new map shows some of the roads reconfigured and includes extending some roads that ended in cul de sacs. He called the reconfigured roads a “little bit more neighbor-friendly.” Grading will be reduced by 900,000 cubic yards, from 2.9 million cubic yards to about 2 million, he said.
Planner Kevin Wallace questioned the motive behind the changes.
“I’m concerned that there is more to this savings, such as the fact that it, to me, might be a sensitive archeological site, and I believe that if they go in there to bulldoze and blast they may uncover something that slows down development,” said Wallace.
Brown responded that the project went through a full California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review and archaeological review. He said there are sensitive areas that the developers avoided.
“Nobody knows for sure what we’re going to find underneath…but we have a pretty good idea, based on archaeological review, that where we’re putting development, where we’re building roads, where we’re putting in infrastructure, that it’s not going to be an impact to the environment,” Brown said.
The consultant noted that reducing grading will decrease the amount of trucks sitting idle and therefore will emit less greenhouse gases. A reduction in blasting will be less disturbance to neighbors, he added. Overall, Brown said, the reduction will not only benefit the developer but also the neighbors.
The development calls for 417 single-family homes, an 8.3-acre active park, 11.9-acre historic park and 571.2 acres of biological open space.
When planner Donna Myers asked if lot sizes will change, Brown said that because of the reconfiguration some may change but no lots will be less that the 20,000-square-foot minimum in the original proposal.
Although Myers and Wallace suggested neighbors in that area have not been involved in the planning process, other planning group members said there was a lot of participation in the past.
Myers and Wallace opposed the changes. Planner Paul Stykel recused himself as he lives close to the project, and Chad Anderson and Jim Cooper were absent.
Brown said he hopes to have the map process finalized by summer and possibly begin construction in early 2015.
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