Village core plan receives unanimous approval

Ramona Village Design Group Chair Rob Lewallen holds up a booklet of design standards at a joint meeting with the  Ramona Community Planning Group and Ramona Design Review Board. Seated next to him is Chris Anderson, vice chair of the planning group and secretary of the design review board.  Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard
Ramona Village Design Group Chair Rob Lewallen holds up a booklet of design standards at a joint meeting with the Ramona Community Planning Group and Ramona Design Review Board. Seated next to him is Chris Anderson, vice chair of the planning group and secretary of the design review board. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

By Karen Brainard

“Unusual, unique, and wonderful.” Those were the words Ramona Village Design Chair Rob Lewallen used after three community advisory groups unanimously approved the draft Ramona Village Center Form-Based Code.

Lewallen presented the 121-page document at a joint meeting of the village design group, Ramona Community Planning Group, and Ramona Design Review Board, held before the planning group’s regular meeting on Dec. 6. Of the 29 members sitting on all three groups, 23 attended the meeting.

“It may be the only time the community of Ramona ever has voted on anything unanimously,” he said.

No one from the public spoke against the plan.

The next step will be approval by the county Planning Commission, according to Howard Blackson, the PlaceMakers consultant who has been working with the village design group for approximately two years. He expects the commission to consider it in early February.

Lewallen briefly reviewed the background of developing the plan and the mechanics, noting that it creates Ramona-specific zoning for the town rather than a county-wide “one size fits all” zoning.

The plan, based on one in Fallbrook, addresses three sections of the village core: the Colonnade on the west side of town, from Etcheverry to Pala streets;  Paseo, from Pala to 10th streets; and Old Town, the historic part of town. The planning areas extend two to three blocks on each side of Main Street in those areas.

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This mock-up shows how the Colonnade section of town on the west end could look using the proposed Ramona specific form-based codes and design standards for new projects. On the right is Elston’s Hay & Grain.

Blackson, who was hired by the county, said the plan will help streamline the building process for new projects while maintaining the rural character of Ramona. According to Blackson, Alpine is working on a similar plan but on a smaller level. He said the plan should be periodically reviewed.

The document has been 10 years in the making, and was funded by thousands of dollars from the county and from Caltrans, noted Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva.

“I think this is what Ramona needs,” he said. “I like the plan because it gives us continuity.”

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Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva says he believes the form-based codes will be good for town planning. From left are planning group members Eb Hogervorst, Bob Hailey, secretary Kristi Mansolf, Piva, Ramona Village Design Group Chair Rob Lewallen, and Chris Anderson, vice chair of the planning group and secretary of the Ramona Design Review Board. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

In addition to the zoning, the plan covers such elements as building types, lighting, landscaping, signage, and parking.

   
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