Planners give initial OK for 14 acres to be considered for big-box store

   Ramona Community Planning Group approved in concept a suggestion that 14 acres from Ramona to 16th streets on the north side of Main be considered a good location for a big-box store.

   Rob Lewallen representing the Ramona Design Review Board and Carol Fowler of the Ramona Village Design Committee last Thursday evening presented a proposal for the Paseo district of town, which stretches from 10th Street at the western edge of Old Town to Pala where the eucalyptus tree colonnade area begins. The goal is to identify a suitable site for a big-box store, so that if prospective developers with a project such as Target comes to town, they can be directed to the designated area, with some level of confidence that their proposed plan would be accepted by the community.  

   “In order to be included in the General Plan update, this land use issue needs to be addressed now, or it won’t happen until the next update,” said Fowler.

The planning group approved in concept the suggested site, with the provision to introduce this community use into the General Plan update, and to limit building size for any such project to a maximum of 100,000 square feet, which is equivalent to the Kmart store.   

   “This is a really good opportunity to create a project in synergy with the Kmart property,” said group member Torry Brean.  

   The seven-acre back portion of the site would have to be rezoned from high density residential to commercial, a move supported by a majority of the members.

   In other action at their Nov. 5 meeting, the planning group approved minor adjustments to the Ramona Branch Library site plan as it applies to traffic circulation.  

   County staff recommended a parking prohibition, with a red line along 13th Street, within 100 feet of the project access driveways. Additionally, those access points will be reduced from three to two, with different alignments as originally considered, neither being aligned with B Street as they were in the original plan.    

   The group also supported the site plan as it related to Main Street, subject to CalTrans approval, with the recommendation that no trees be removed if at all possible.  

   Groundbreaking for the new library will be Nov. 16 at 10 a.m.

   Another agenda item addressed property owners attempting to rebuild after the loss of their home in the 2007 fires.  The county required them to request a waiver from the planning group for “S” Scenic Designator, because their home was located within 1,000 feet of Highway 78.  

   The applicants stated that their address was printed incorrectly on the agenda, and Secretary Kristi Mansolf further reported that no plans had been received from the county for the group members to review.  

   The group asked if the applicants were rebuilding their home in the exact same location as the one that had burned, and it was determined that they were. After a brief review of the plans the applicant had brought with them, a motion to approve was passed.

   “I don’t even know why these people should have had to come to us for this,” said one group member.

Concern was expressed by Chairman Chris Anderson that no Palomar Pomerado Health (PPH) representatives were present to address their agenda item and in fact, had been absent from several of the previous planning group meetings. There are still unresolved issues and questions the group has about the PPH project. The item will remain on the RCPG agenda and further efforts to contact PPH representatives will be made, though past efforts have resulted in phone calls not being returned, the planners said.

   The final item of the evening was a letter of protest to be delivered to the San Diego County Planning Commission the next morning by group members Paul Stykel and Jim Piva since Chair Chris Anderson was unable to attend.  It was discovered that after years of work by the group to give input to, and review the General Plan updates, that many new staff recommendations had been made at the last minute that the planning group had not been given an opportunity to even read.  

   These recommendations were being presented to the county planning commission early Nov. 6, the day after this RCPG meeting. The letter asked that the planning commission postpone action on these new recommendations for 30 days to allow the Ramona group time to review and comment.  

   After the planning commission meeting, Paul Stykel reported that Devon Muto from the county Department of Planning and Land Use said he would come to Ramona for a special meeting with the planning group.  This will have to occur before the Nov. 19 and 20 county commission meetings, when further input will be taken from each of the county’s 20 planning groups.

   
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