A subdivision featuring more than 1,000 homes, two commercial centers, two parks, a possible new school and fire station, got the approval of the Lake Elsinore Planning Commission Tuesday night.
In a 4-0 vote, commissioners adopted a resolution recommending that Lake Elsinore City Council approve a vesting tentative tract map that proposes a 400-acre development situated east of Lake Street called the “Alberhill Ridge Project.”
In order to allow the proposal to move forward, the commissioners also voted 4-0 to restate a development agreement between Castle & Cooke and the City of Lake Elsinore.
Plans by Castle & Cooke to develop the land have been on the table for nearly 22 years: An original development agreement was signed by the city and the company in 1990. At the time, the proposed development was grander in scale, including more homes and additional commercial space over a much larger land mass.
However, 600 acres of the original 998-acre plan were subsequently sold to the County of Riverside to be set aside as open space under the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
Although the project has been downsized, there were concerns Tuesday night. Among them was one by Commissioner David Blake, who said potential homeowners and businesses in the proposed development need to be forewarned about noise generated by nearby mining operations.
Castle & Cooke is the parent company of the local mining firm Pacific Clay, which mines clay and aggregates within the city limits.
Commissioner Michael O’Neal also expressed concern about a lack of Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fees (TUMF) generated by the project. Under the development agreement, Lake Elsinore City Attorney Barbara Leibold confirmed the plan is exempt from TUMF because it’s a “new fee” that was not required back in 1990.
As a result, $20 million in TUMF fees that would have been collected will not be paid. TUMF fees are assessed on developers for the purpose of building and upgrading regional roadways.
Additionally, there were concerns by Lake Elsinore resident Sharon Gallina that the proposed 400-acre site has been contaminated by prior mining activities and is therefore subject to remediation, but Tom Tomlinson, senior vice president of Land Development for Castle & Cooke, said a Phase I environmental report commissioned by his company showed that was not the case.
“We’re not aware of any contamination issues,” Leibold confirmed.
It was requested Tuesday that Castle & Cooke provide its Phase I report to the city prior to Nov. 13 when the Lake Elsinore City Council decides whether it will accept the planning commission’s recommendation to move forward on the project.