Thursday, April 6, 2017

• Planning Commission Meeting April 2017

This meeting was about the proposed Camelia Townhouse project that is slated for the a triangle of land where Palomar becomes Washington at the city line with Murrieta.
The orange circle is where a stop sign is slated to go.

The first thing I noticed about this meeting is that the room was at least 80% full. Which means more people came to this meeting than came to the meeting about marijuana dispensaries last week.

Before any gumshoe tries to suggest that one meeting was better advertised over the other, both were touted in the same places. Thing is, people cared about one issue and not the other.

For those that want to see how the meeting went in real time, there are three videos below. 

The first video has the presentations, the second has the public comments, and the last is where the commission discussed the agenda item.

To recap what Camelia is, it's 163 unit gated townhouse project. The units are not apartments, though planning commissioner John Lloyd kept referring to them as apartments. These units are to be sold with the previously reported price point starting beyond $300K.



Public comments took about 45 minutes. 
The list of speakers is as follows:
                • Robert Kinsey (9 minutes)
                • Ken Mayes 
                • Pete Kee (9 minutes)
                • Dawn Morrison 
                • Tim Huizenga (6 minutes)
                • DJ Williams
                • Erika Vaughn
                • Ryan Vaughn 
                • Robert Kinsey returned for a second helping.

Which led to a humorous moment reminiscent of the famous scene from Spartacus. Since Mr. Kinsey had already had his three minutes, plus an additional six donated minutes, he hit a mini road block.

City Planner Matt Bassi suggested he could use additional donated minutes and commissioner Veronica Langworthy reminded them they had to submit their names first. 
This is where some pictures of the existing houses were introduced. 

The neighbors went into the field behind their homes, stood on the grounds where the proposed town homes will be, held some 20' flagpoles to give an idea of the height and snapped some pics.

I took one of the images and then superimposed the 6' block wall, and the town home beyond it. Of course it's not 100% accurate, I made this image in about 15 minutes and had very little to work with. It's just to give you an idea of what is being proposed. 

One of the images supplied by the neighbors. On the left is how the original looks. On the right is after adding a town home and a block wall. If you look on the original image, you can see men in the field. Using them as a guide, the block wall I added may be much higher than six feet.
Also, trees are to be planted in the area between the block walls, and it was said that the new wall would be covered with vegetation once the landscaping matured. 
During the public comments Ken Mayes got a sitting ovation. It couldn't have been for what he said, since much of it wasn't even about the project, he was talking about the extreme shortage of park acres in town. That didn't prevent the crowd from getting excited at his oration style as he finished speaking.

Which led Chairman Stan Smith to mildly admonish the audience and suggested that if they are in agreement with the speaker, to raise their hands. Instead of raising hands, many went for the 1968 Olympics fist in the air after every speaker finished.
This photo doesn't accurately capture the sea of arms that went up.






There were a lot of fair points made during the public comments, right alongside a lot of silly ones. Sorry people, but when you say it's a nightmare (or worse), you're just adding to the joke meme known as first world problems.
We are so blessed that our key problem in life is a potential townhouse development.

The group was pretty well prepared and speaker Pete Kee read a laundry list of items (starting at 15:20 of the video), so that they would have standing if they were to choose to take the issue to court.

Among the grievances listed:

Invasion of privacy, increased traffic, increased pollution, increased noise, potential increase of crime, lack of adequate police coverage, uncontrolled lighting impact on existing homes, blocking views, devaluation of property values especially on the Murrieta side, impact to schools in both Murrieta and Wildomar.

From a letter addressed to the City of Wildomar Planning Commission, read by Pete Kee.
Had to get a tickle from the some of that list. 
link to public comment video

The commission was swayed by the Murrieta residents and asked that this be continued to a future date. They were reminded that usually there is something that is supposed to occur during such continuations, and that the applicant (developer) would need some direction.

Commissioner Kim Strong said, "Do we have any concerns, time for the communities, the property owners to do any investigations? Wouldn't it be in the best interest of the city to allow them more time?

Commissioner Veronica Langworthy added, "Yeah, it might be best to continue so there is more review time."

Thing is, I didn't see what was supposed to actually change during the next two and a half months.


At the end of the day, the commission voted to have this continued to June 21st by a 5-0 vote. 

Originally it was going to be slated for June 7th, but quite a vocal outcry could be heard from the audience since that day coincides with graduation at one of the Murrieta high schools.

Enjoy the outburst starting at 53:40 of the video.

Let's break this down now.

In its simplest terms:

There is a proposed development that is being met by resistance from the existing neighbors. 

Just like with all such instances, the neighbors make some compelling points about how their lives will be impacted forever more... mixed in with some eyebrow raising claims at the same time.

The facts are, if you talk to the members of that group, most want NOTHING there. We're in the "what will stick to the wall" part of the process.

They're using a long list of objections (the exact same type of objections that are raised every time a new development is proposed) and topping it off with that it's "high density". 

Commissioner Langworthy made a point worth considering.
What I'm hearing is neighbors are asking the developer to make some movement, some compromise. So I'm looking at the neighbor's house and I don't see a whole lot trees in your backyards blocking the view either. So maybe you might want to consider what your yard planting is, as a compromise. So when everybody comes back together both sides are making some movement. I realize you've been there a long time, but somebody's going to build in that yard (field) and no decision has been at this point. Just know that change is going to come at some point. 

Planning Commissioner Veronica Langworthy

The previous project that was supposed to go on that site got eaten up by the recession, but it had more units backed up to the same wall. The difference was that they were single family homes. (Not really sure how that changes the loss of privacy claims.)
Hey, I used to misspell "origional" like that too... when I was a kid.
Another observation I made here is how disruptive, and dismissive the crowd was, especially at the end of the meeting. 

They showed no respect for the city of Wildomar, or its planning commission, when they got up and started talking among themselves as they slowly sauntered out of the room once their agenda item was finished. Then many proceeded to talk at full voice right outside the glass doors. 

I love Chairman Stan Smith, and do appreciate his style that allows for more public input, but it's hard to stomach it when I see such disrespect allowed to go on as much as it did. 

Stay tuned... this isn't going away anytime soon.
•          •          •

Human beings yield in many situations, even important and spiritual and central ones, as long as it prolongs one's well-being.

– Alexander Solzhenitsy 1918-2008


Wildomar Rap loves watching a well armed battle of wills... let's hope that neither side yields. 

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for speaking up regarding civil, civic behavior.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, once we allow that one to go out the window... I hate to see what's next.

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  2. I thought that it was an eye opening meeting..we all had a chance to express our views until the meeting was closed to the public..The commission got to address Mr.Markum with some good questions and some leading ones. Chairman Smith finally reopened the meeting to the public but ,closed it again before anyone could address the unchallenged statements made by Markum.
    We look forward to new sit downs with his staff to discuss Intel gent and fruitful compromises to their site plan ,density ,size and elevations that are so offensive to our adjacent neighborhood..I suggest that the commission members visit the proposed site and look at our back yards ..if that was to have happened before the meeting ,we wouldn't have heard that we should add more landscaping on our side..We have built with pride over many years to us ,mini resort yards.Adding more to our side to hide a project being brought in to our state from a member of an out of state LLC real Estate investment developer is a stretch...Pete Kee

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    Replies
    1. Pete,
      You are a good leader for your neighbors, Michael Kinsey seems like an asset too. Usually the meetings don't see the public portion open and close like that. I don't see any harm in having let you speak (rebutting Markham's statements) once the meeting was "reopened", though Commissioner Smiths point about it being moot since the item was continued is understandable too.

      I also think it's imperative that anyone voting on this project (commissioners or council members) should have to physically visit the site first. I don't really have a position here, but I'm sure I'd be right there with you if I lived in your neighborhood.

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  3. Thank you Joe..many of us were under the impression that once Chairman Smith closed our agenda item and announced the rest of the meeting was strictly commission items we could leave..I agree ,we could have done it in a more respect tful and quiet manner..I would say that it was most people's first public meeting weren't familar with the correct procedures ..I'm sure it will be different the next time ..

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    Replies
    1. Now that I think about it, the disruption could have been avoided if Chairman Smith had allowed a few moments before going onto the next item. Either by pausing the meeting or even calling for a 5 minute recess. Most people were there only for item 2.2 and it's understandable to not want to sit through things that aren't applicable.

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  4. In regards to visiting our properties..I'm sure that if approached from the Myers, we would be glad to invite them into our homes and yards to get the 'real picture' of what is impossible to see in a set of developers plans..

    ReplyDelete
  5. Myers is a autocorrect demon..I meant members of the commission.

    ReplyDelete

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