Upland Allows Homes To Be Built Next To Existing Boat Manufacturing Operation

Grading at the site for the Enclave residential subdivision in western Upland was under way this morning.
That work to make way for construction at the 15.64 acre site came after the Upland Planning Commission gave go-ahead for Lennar Homes, which is to be the builder on the project originally championed by the Lewis Land Developers, LLC, to begin construction.
The planning commission’s action on Wednesday night removed from the original 19.03 acre project site 3.39 acres currently occupied by a boat manufacturing concern, GT Performance. The boat manufacturer had formerly, prior to the project being given approval in 2015, agreed to sell the property to Lewis Land Developers, LLC for inclusion in the project. Word was that because the Lewis Operating Company was unwilling to pay GT Performance’s moving costs, the purchase of the property to be included in the subdivision has not been made by Lewis Land Developers, LLC.
Because the 3.39 acres is not being included in the current undertaking, the overall project, set at 350 homes in 2015, will be reduced by the 65 dwelling units that were to be constructed on the GT Performance property. In addition, the 103 dwelling units that were slated for a 5.12 acre patch of ground within the project site have been reduced by 27 to 76 dwelling units; the 94 dwelling units to be built on a 4.7 acre parcel are to be reduced by 31 to 63 dwelling units; and 88 dwelling units to be built on 4.38 acres within the subdivision have been reduced by 35 to 53 dwelling units.
Thus, overall, the project is to entail 192 total dwelling units. There remains a possibility that in the future the GT Performance property could be developed residentially, involving as many as 65 units.
The units to be built are to include attached three-story townhomes using Santa Barbara, French Provincial and Spanish Monterey architectural schemes, as well as detached two-story homes in the Santa Barbara, French Provincial and Spanish Monterey styles.
Unresolved by the planning commission is the difficulty represented by the location of the Enclave Development and the nearby Harvest Development within the City of Upland’s industrial district.
Both the Enclave project and the Harvest project have entrances off of 11th Street and fall within an area of the city that is industrially zoned. Both Harvest and the Enclave were projects undertaken by Lewis Land Developers, LLC, the corporate successor of Lewis Homes. Lewis Homes historically was one of the most successful home builders in the Inland Empire, founded by Ralph and Goldy Lewis in the 1950s. The second generation of the Lewis Family is now in the process of relinquishing control over the company to the third generation of ownership and management, as the company has become involved less and less in actual home building and now engages mostly in achieving entitlements to proceed with projects, and spins those off to other home builders, such as Lennar in the case of the Enclave and KB Homes in the case of Harvest.
The Lewis Group of Companies, including Lewis Homes and Lewis Land Developers, LLC, is based in Upland and its principals, including Richard, Randall, Roger and Robert Lewis along with Leon Swails and John Goodman are pillars of Upland society and the local political establishment. When the company first proposed constructing the Harvest residential project in the city’s industrial zone in the early 2000s, city officials were unable to stand up to the Lewis Empire and resist the call to place what was essentially an incompatible residential use into property more properly used and already zoned for industrial purposes. This was compounded when the Enclave project was proposed in the same industrial district along 11th Street some years later, and the city once more caved in to the Lewis Land Developers request.
The problem this created manifested last year when Yellow Iron Development proposed the construction of a 92,275-square foot warehouse/light industrial manufacturing/distribution facility, on the south side of 11th Street just to the east of the Harvest Development and west of the Enclave. The project, the site plan for which included 11 truck bays and two other truck loading facilities as well as parking spaces for 202 vehicles, appeared to be fully in compliance with the city’s zoning codes. Nevertheless, the planning commission denied the Yellow Iron Development approval of the project, primarily out of concern over the developer’s unwillingness to grant an assurance that the eventual tenant would not want to conduct operations during night and early morning hours.
Evening and early morning operations are a staple of industrial operations. The city, which already is in the throes of fighting 55 lawsuits, is facing the prospect of yet another from Yellow Iron Development, which has appealed the planning commission’s denial of the project to the city council. If the city council upholds the planning commission’s denial, word on the street is that Yellow Iron Development will file a 56th lawsuit against the city based on its contention that the city has denied the company’s right to operate, even though it has shown its readiness to meet all city codes and has complied with city zoning regulations.
This week, faced with the contradiction between the city’s zoning restrictions and the incompatible and non-compliant uses that have been permitted to locate within specific areas of the city, the planning commission and Community Development Director Bob Dahlquest did not utilize that opportunity to explore the full implication of the city’s past actions that have led it to this juncture, and to resolve the incompatible use and inconsistent zoning issues facing the city.
The failure to come to terms with that zoning discordance relates directly to this project, since the planning commission’s vote permitted Lewis Land Developers, Inc. and Lennar Homes to proceed with a residential development that will be contiguous on two sides with GT Performance’s industrial operation.
-Mark Gutglueck

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