Developer agreements for two new housing tracts in
Wildomar were approved Wednesday night by the city’s planning commission, but
not without some reservations.
In both cases the vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Bob Devine dissenting because of a tax that will be imposed on buyers who purchase in the city’s new neighborhoods.
The first proposal approved Wednesday night was a developer agreement for 157 single-family homes to be built off Palomar Street at McVicar Street.
The developer agreement between CV Communities and the city had come to the planning commission in August, but the item was tabled due to concerns about flooding. The proposed tract is within a floodplain identified by the federal government. The concern that’s been raised by some Wildomar residents is whether further development in the area would significantly impact existing residents, and whether there have been enough changes to the creek and flood channel over the years that should mandate further environmental review of the proposed project.
The tract maps for CV Communities' proposed project were approved by the county before the city incorporated, so hence the call from some for an updated environmental review.
According to an engineer representing CV Communities, along with representatives from Riverside County Flood Control and Water Control District -- who were all on hand for Wednesday night’s planning commission meeting -- the proposed project would not cause problems for existing residents. However, Riverside County Flood Control representative Mike Wong admitted some work is needed along Murrieta Creek’s flood channel to provide better water flow, especially during winter storms.
Wildomar City Engineer Dan York followed Wong’s comments up by stating that Riverside County Flood Control has now made a commitment to help the city work through some of its drainage problems, and he maintained the flood channel and the developer agreement are separate issues.
York and city staff also contend there have been no significant changes to the Murrieta Creek or the flood channel since the original environmental document was prepared for the project.
During Wednesday night’s meeting, Wildomar resident Gary Andre disagreed. He said there have been significant changes that should prompt further environmental review of the proposed housing project – and any other developments that could impact area drainage.
“Do we have a problem? Yes!” Andre said, noting that there are several areas along the channel in which water doesn’t flow correctly due to debris build-up. He also argued the channel cannot properly accommodate all the water that flows through in the winter.
However, the commissioners took city staff’s recommendation that the project would not significantly impact existing structures in the area and passed the item with the 4-1 vote.
Commissioner Devine voted against the project because of a special annual tax -- which could go as high as $590 per parcel -- that would be imposed on homeowners in the new tract. The fee would cover the cost of emergency services for the residents as well as maintenance inside the tract.
But it’s not just the proposed development that worried Devine.
Under the developer agreement, CV Communites will spend $15,000 to establish a Community Facilities District (CFD) that would collect the special tax on all future development in Wildomar.
Devine said he would have a tough time approving anything that imposes taxes on Wildomar residents.
Commission Chair Stan Smith countered that the tax helps alleviate impact to existing community members.
“The new homeowners will pay their fair share,” Smith said.
A second developer agreement was also approved Wednesday night with a 4-1 vote. That proposal calls for a 51-lot, single-family housing tract to be built on the east side of George Avenue, just south of La Estrella Road. Rancon is the project applicant.
Devine was also the lone vote against the second project because, once units begin selling in the development, owners will also be required to pay the annual special tax under the new CFD.
Devine said the tax was the only reason he voted against the projects.
Like the CV Communities project, the tentative tract map for the Rancon project was approved by the county prior to Wildomar’s incorporation.
Final approval on both developer agreements must still come from city council.
At press time, neither Rancon nor CV Communities has submitted any project plans to the city, although Wednesday night a representative from Rancon told the commissioners that his company is looking to start construction on the 51-lot project during the first part of next year.