Planning group supports Cumming Ranch trails

   A trail system for the proposed Cumming Ranch residential development on Highland Valley Road, about a quarter mile north of state Route 67, has the approval of the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG).

   Cumming Ranch will be designed for 125 single family homes on lots ranging from one acre to 3.1 acres, said Gene Driscoll, project owner. 

   The property consists of 682.6 acres. Driscoll said 32 percent of the property, or 215.4 acres, will be used for residential; 1 percent, or 9.8 acres, will be used for a right of way within Highland Valley Road and Route 67, and the remaining 457.4 acres is part of the Ramona Grasslands Preserve. 

   Driscoll presented plans for a 3.4-mile system of trails and pathways at the planning group meeting on June 3.  He explained that the pathways will run alongside the road or Route 67 and will be maintained by the county’s Department of Public Works (DPW) while the trails within the development will be maintained by the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).

   “We basically start at the intersection of 67,” he said. “It goes north through our property for a short interval, runs through Hardy Ranch, back into our property and then into the staging area on Airport Road.”

   Driscoll said he used to own the Hardy Ranch but sold it to the county because it was considered a pivotal part of the Ramona Grasslands. A high point of the trail will offer a view of Bandy Canyon and Ramona Airport, said Driscoll.

   The two-acre staging area will consist of one acre of gravel for cars and trailers to park and an acre of low-mowed grass that will feature an old cattle chute and a restored windmill that will serve as a reference point for people hiking the trails.

   Driscoll noted there is also a trail that branches off. 

   “It gives a kind of scenic view of the Santa Maria Creek, which comes through our property, and that’s probably the most pristine portion. It runs about half a mile and it is absolutely pristine,” said Driscoll. 

   “We believe Mr. Driscoll has done an outstanding job on trails,” said Jim Piva, chair of RCPG’s Trails and Transportation Subcommittee. 

   According to Driscoll, the Cumming Ranch project was designed with five goals:

   •Accommodate the Ramona Grasslands Preserve in its formation,

   •Provide a residential development that reflects Ramona’s rural character and country lifestyle,

   •Through design, seamlessly integrate the development portion of the Cumming Ranch project with adjacent natural areas,

   •Implement a scenic and meaningful trail system, and

   •Integrate the existing Ramona Pool Preserve into the Ramona Grasslands Preserve

   The development will not be gated. 

   “We wanted it to be a neighborhood as opposed to a closed community,” said Driscoll. 

   Cumming Ranch will have a homeowners association, and all of the lights will be designed to comply with the county’s dark sky policy.

   Driscoll added that the only grading will be access points to the lots and the lot pads. All the rocks and trees will for the most part stay in place, he said. 

   The development will have  secondary access “fire and evacuation only” roads, with one on the north side leading to Highland Valley Court and one in the far southwest corner that will lead to Route 67.  The fire access roads will be gated but will not be locked, as required by the county fire marshal.

   The Cumming Ranch project, Driscoll said, will pay slightly over $1 million in transportation impact fees (TIF).

   The planning group approved a tentative map of the project in 2005. Since then, Driscoll has been working with the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU).  Although not required, he said he chose to update the planning group on the project as a courtesy.

   RCPG’s letter of support will be submitted to DPLU. Driscoll hopes to have the project approved by the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors by the end of this year.

   Another project presented at the meeting was a four-lot subdivision at the northeast corner of Highland Valley Road and Highland Trails. The 53-acre site is part of the former Gildred Ranch, the majority of which is now part of the Ramona Grasslands. 

   Project representative Conor McGee and owner Jim Whalen were at the meeting to discuss the project. Issues of transportation, environment, and open space are being studied, and fire department requirements will be forthcoming.

   The planning group made a motion that it likes the plan as submitted and looks forward to future documentation. RCPG member Kristi Mansolf, who serves as the group’s secretary, said DPLU has asked that the planning group wait until documentation is more developed before approving projects.

   
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