Look for progress on 3 projects this year

Gene Driscoll with 805 Properties reviews Cumming Ranch residential development plans to the Ramona Real Estate Association in February 2012. County supervisors will consider the proposal on Jan. 30. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

By Karen Brainard

Three developments planned for Ramona are expected to see some movement this year, starting with Cumming Ranch going to the county Board of Supervisors for a vote on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

The 125-residential lot subdivision about one-quarter mile northwest of the Route 67/Highland Valley Road intersection received San Diego County Planning Commission’s endorsement in August 2012 and the Ramona Community Planning Group’s (RCPG) support in December 2010.

At the RCPG Jan. 10 meeting, planners asked Chair Jim Piva to represent the group and speak in favor of Cumming Ranch at the supervisors meeting. The proposed development, planned by Gene Driscoll of 805 Properties, consists of 683 acres, with 457 of those acres saved as biological open space. Residential lots would range from one acre to 3.1 acres.

Another proposed development, Ramona Air Center, could receive its first round of financing in mid-February, said Karl Higgins, a partner in the venture.

“We’re in the process of raising private equity to fund the construction of the project,” he said.

The master planned fee-simple aviation development would be located north of the Ramona Airport on Montecito Road and consist of 56 two-story hangars ranging from 3,600 square feet to 21,000 square feet. Higgins said the price would range from about $700,000 to $3 million.

Since 2008, Higgins said, financing has been difficult but the outlook appears to be improving. Investment professionals, financial professionals, and pilots “all tell us that their businesses are doing better. Not great,” he added, but better than 2008 and the subsequent years.

“We were able to weather the storm because we didn’t have a lot of overhead,” Higgins said.

After the first round of financing is secured, Higgins said he plans to meet with the Ramona Municipal Water District and give an update on the project. The last time he met with the board was in July 2011, when the board approved a fire service availability letter for the air center. Because the district determined that the air center would impact its fire and emergency services, Higgins suggested a financing mechanism, known as a community facilities district (CFD), that would only affect owners or tenants of the air center and could possibly fund a new fire station.

Higgins said he hopes to get approval from the Planning Commission in the third quarter of this year, break ground by the end of 2013, and have occupancy in the first set of hangars by 2014.

Chris Brown, president of Alchemy Consulting Group, said there is no target date to break ground for Montecito Ranch, but plans are slowly moving along. The 935-acre development by Bruce Tabb and Environmental Development LLC is northeast of the Ramona Airport and would include 417 homes, a package sewage treatment plant, public trails, and an equestrian center.

In December 2009, the RCPG approved a general plan amendment for the project, and in April 2010, the Planning Commission gave its endorsement.

Brown said they hope to go back to the Planning Commission soon for approval of road modifications that were given the nod by the majority of RCPG members in November 2012. Discrepancies were found in the Traffic Impact Study for Montecito Way, Montecito Road, and Ash Street that showed those roads would not need to be widened, Brown told RCPG.

According to Brown, a lot of work remains on the proposed Montecito Ranch, including permits from environmental agencies and for grading, mitigation as part of the Environmental Impact Report, and final mapping.

   
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