An appeal by the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) regarding the San Diego County Planning Commission’s approval of Salvation Army’s proposed camp expansion should go to the County Board of Supervisors in 30 to 60 days, according to RCPG member Kristi Mansolf.
Salvation Army, which owns the camp and retreat off Mussey Grade Road, has been attempting to expand the facilities for the past 10 years, proposing to increase capacity from 200 to 615 and the number of buildings from 23 to 54 on the 578-acre property. Residents in that area have opposed to the expansion, citing concerns about fire evacuation issues and increased traffic. In 2003, the Cedar fire destroyed two-thirds of the houses along Mussey Grade Road, which dead-ends north of the San Vicente Reservoir.
Mansolf said she appealed the planning commission’s decision on behalf of the RCPG, citing location of the expansion, the size of the project and public safety as the key issues for the appeal. The Mussey Grade Road Alliance, a group of residents who live along Mussey Grade, has also filed an appeal.
At the RCPG April 1 meeting, Mansolf told members she wants to set some issues straight when the appeal comes before the supervisors. She said that when Salvation Army’s attorney, Matthew Peterson, of Peterson and Price, was asked by the commission if the RCPG had reviewed the fire protection plan, Peterson said they had not. Mansolf said she was not allowed a rebuttal.
“Basically he kind of stepped on the community a little bit and stepped over us,” said Mansolf.
Mansolf said she thinks the supervisors should be informed that the planning group reviewed the preliminary fire protection plan in 2008 and gave their comments. In January of this year, when Peterson and members from Salvation Army brought revised plans to the RCPG for a new vote, Peterson provided a summary of the fire protection plan, but the planning group wanted the official document, Mansolf recalled.
“One of the commissioners said, ‘well, the planning group should have reviewed it,’ but the thing is we did and it was e-mailed out to everybody and there was still no reconsideration,” said Mansolf.
Salvation Army came back to the planning group in February for approval of the project. Because the group had denied the camp expansion in 2001, a vote was needed to reconsider the project. No member, however, seconded a motion to reconsider; the camp expansion, therefore, remained denied by the RCPG, a 15-member elected advisory group to the county.
In other business at the April 1 meeting:
• RCPG Chair Chris Anderson said she had received information from the county about a lawsuit regarding conflict of interest with another community planning group. She told members that, if they have any type of conflict of interest involving an issue before the group, they need to step down and not vote on that issue. The county is talking about extra training and about changing the way the advisory groups are linked to the county because of liability, she added.
Although she did not have details, Anderson told members, “It wasn’t us that did anything wrong.”
• LaVonna Connelly, Ramona Transportation Action Committee (RTAC) coordinator, told the RCPG she will be chairing a subcommittee under Full Access & Coordinated Transportation (FACT) and will be talking about Ramona’s public transportation issues. She said she will be looking into using Ramona Unified School District (RUSD) buses for public transportation. The idea was suggested at last month’s RCPG meeting by Merit Whitney, RUSD’s transportation supervisor, who said the buses are available when not in use to transport students.
“That would be super innovative and I think it would attract more funding if we could say we work together,” said Connelly. “We use our resources this way.”
• The planning group approved the mitigated negative declaration for the Village Walk Townhomes, a 14-unit townhome development at La Brea and Pala streets.