County Cites Overriding Concern To Give 3,114 Unit Project Near Apple Valley Okay

(February 26)  The board of supervisors this week approved a 3,114-residential unit project on 1,557 acres in the unincorporated county area east of Apple Valley.
A public hearing on the Hacienda at Fairview Valley Specific Plan was held by the Planning Commission on December 5, 2013. Prior to the hearing, a number of letters both in support and in opposition to the project were received and provided to the commission by separate memoranda. The commission recommended approval of the specific plan and related actions on a vote of 4-0, with one commissioner recusing himself.
The project is to be built at the northeast corner of  Laguna Seca Drive and Cahuilla Road as a master planned residential community focused primarily on active adults, ages 55 and above, totaling a maximum of 3,114 residential units, 15 acres of commercial and 336 acres of parks, equestrian facilities, and open space.
The project’s proponent is Strata Equity Group Incorporated.
County Land Use Services Director Tom Hudson called the project “a sustainable system of housing, recreation, retail and infrastructure in which the development complements the natural resources and environment. The project will also ensure the development of a well-planned, balanced, and sustainable county by providing the framework for a master planned community. The project is organized around four neighborhood ‘villages’ that will be linked together through a network of local roadways, multi-use trails and pedestrian paths, parks, greenbelts, water features, and natural open space. The project also contains two overlay districts that provide options for expanded equestrian uses and a golf course. The project is located approximately two miles east of the town of  Apple Valley and within the town’s sphere of influence.”
According to Hudson the project is proposed to be developed in four phases over a 15-20 year timeframe. “It is important to note that the Hacienda at Fairview Valley Specific Plan is conceptual in nature and does not include any subdivision or precise development plans. Therefore, while specific acreage assumptions are assigned to each land use category in the specific plan document for planning and environmental purposes, the land use areas shown on the land use plan are conceptual and will require specific mapping before individual development parcels can be created. Furthermore, additional studies will be needed before all necessary infrastructure and public facilities can be designed to accommodate the project’s development phases.”
With regard to environmental compliance, Hudson said a project-level environmental impact report was prepared for the project, evaluating potentially significant effects.
“The potential environmental effects have been exhaustively analyzed in a final environmental impact report together with a draft environmental impact report and errata thereto, which is subject to certification by the board of supervisors. All of the potential environmental impacts were determined to be capable of being reduced to a less than significant level except in the following areas: 1) aesthetics, 2) air quality, 3) biological resources, and 4) traffic and circulation, which were determined to be significant and unavoidable.”
Because not all the project’s impacts can be reduced to a level that is less than significant, findings of fact and a statement of overriding considerations was adopted by the board of supervisors in approving the project. That vote was made unanimously.
According to Hudson, the overriding benefits of the project included new residential development that satisfies an identified need providing housing for active adults in the region, the generation of sales tax revenue, improved drainage facilities for the area, compliance with the Town of Apple Valley’s resident-approved density for the area of a maximum of two dwelling units per acre and new employment opportunities associated with the proposed commercial development.

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