The proposed “Spring Meadows Ranch Community” situated on 792 acres near The Farm in Wildomar is the largest project considered by the city since its incorporation in 2008. And Wednesday night that project got its first green light from the Wildomar Planning Commission.
With a 4-0 vote, the commission agreed to recommend to city council that it approve a request by project applicant Rancho Santa Fe–based Shapouri & Associates to amend Wildomar's general plan. Planning Commission Vice Chair Michael Kazmier resigned Wednesday and was absent for the meeting.
According to Ali Shapouri, principal at Shapouri & Associates, the company wants to develop a "world class" non-gated community that includes 403 acres of medium-density housing, a large equestrian center with boarding, a retail center, parks, community center, pool, clubhouse, and trails, all surrounded by open space. In total, the community would be 792 acres in size.
"We're going to take the time to do it right," Shapouri said, noting that his firm would be the master planner for the project with guest builders constructing in "well-planned out" phases.
Shapouri has completed several projects in Rancho Santa Fe and other communities, he said, most notably The Crosby, an upscale gated community with a private golf course located in north San Diego County.
Most commended the Springs Meadow Ranch concept Wednesday night, but some were skeptical.
"It's a beautiful project," said former Wildomar City Councilwoman Sheryl Ade. But she was doubtful Springs Meadow Ranch would pencil, given the needed infrastructure like roads, water, sewer, and drainage.
She also argued that the site's massive size, its location, and Wildomar's identity, better suit the property to a ranch community with larger lots. Currently, 409 acres of the 792-acre site are designated as "estate density residential." If the requested general plan amendment is approved, that designation disappears.
Several people, including Ade, objected to the way proposed roads for the project would direct traffic. There would be a north-south thoroughfare constructed right through the development, but approximately 75 percent of Spring Meadows Ranch traffic would be directed in and out through Murrieta or Menifee, with only about 25 percent directed through Wildomar.
Former Wildomar Planning Commissioner Harv Dykstra objected to that idea, noting that sales tax revenues from services like gas stations, restaurants, retail, etc., would go to neighboring communities, not Wildomar.
"We're not doing Wildomar any good," he said.
Shapouri heard the comments and said he wanted to work with the community to bring the project to fruition. Optimally, he said he would like to see development start in 2015.
If the general plan amendment is approved, there are still many required steps along the way, including an environmental impact report, a tentative tract map, design plans, etc.
"We don't rubber stamp," said Wildomar Planning Director Matt Bassi. "We have to follow strict laws."
"If we do this right," Shapouri said, "I think it's going to be very beneficial to the city and neighboring property owners."