Wonder Valley Residents Denounce Resort Proposal As ‘Foot In the Door’ To Urbanization

Two developers and a civil engineering and land surveying specialist who in 2020 ran for a position on the San Bernardino City Council have raised the concern of dozens of Wonder Valley residents with a proposal to develop a 106-room hotel, to include an all-night restaurant, spa/wellness center, conference hall and event center to be located at the southeast corner of Amboy Road and Gammel Road in the sparsely populated desert community roughly 10 miles east of Twentynine Palms. The resort would include a 6,000-square foot swimming pool, hot tubs, outdoor showers, a 180,000-gallon water tank and a 205-space parking lot.
Alan Greenberg and Jason Landver have retained David Mlynarski and his company, Transtech Engineers, Inc., to seriously explore converting the 4,407-square foot former Southern California Edison facility most commonly known by locals as “the pink building” and a portion of the 134.6 acres around it into year-round resort.
Mlynarski, a member of the American Planning Association, the Baldy View Chapter of the Building Industry Association, of which he is currently an executive committee member, the Inland Empire Economic Recovery Corporation, of which he is also the chief financial officer, and the National Association of Home Builders, ran as a pro-development candidate for city council in San Bernardino’s Seventh Ward two years ago. He possesses solid credentials relating to guiding developmental interests in achieving entitlements to build based upon his professional experience. He was an assistant planner with the City of Fontana and then an associate planner and zoning administrator with the City of Palmdale. He left the public sector and parlayed his experience behind the planning counter to become the vice president of land development with Moning Development in Fullerton, later becoming vice president of market development with Redlands-based Sierra Engineering. He worked with two civil engineering and land surveying companies before purchasing one of them and converting it to Transtech Engineers, Inc. He is guiding Greenberg and Landver in their application with the San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department to build what Greenberg and Landver have dubbed the Wonder Valley Inn.
The initial phases of the development would extend to no more than 25 acres, including the 4,407-square foot building on the property. It is not clear whether the building, which was used by Southern California Edison in the 1970s for switching and storage purposes, would be incorporated into the design for the project or razed entirely to make way for a completely revamped set of structures.
Greenberg and Landver in November 2021 applied for a conditional use permit, including a rezoning request for 21.22 of the acres on the site which are currently zoned for low density housing under the county’s RL-5 zoning designation to CS, or commercial service use. The current RL-5 designation allows single family homes on lots no smaller than five acres. Greenberg and Landver either own outright or have tied up approximately 135 acres at the Amboy/Gammel corner. The 3.18 acres closest to the two roads is already zoned for commercial service use.
Thus, it appears that Greenberg and Landver envision the hotel/resort occupying roughly 24.4 acres.
Greenberg and Landver’s plans have not been gladly received by many of Wonder Valley’s approximate 640 residents. One of those, Eric Hamburg, created the website StopWonderInn.org.
“This project would be unlike anything in the wide-open spaces of Wonder Valley,” according to the website. “It would permanently change the quality of life by imposing unwanted light pollution diminishing our irreplaceable, beautiful dark skies, increased vehicle traffic with its associated dangers and air pollution, increased energy consumption in these times of climate change, and significant water use affecting out shared aquifer. It would strain the area’s already under-resourced fire and law services. Why allow this development to be the first step in beginning the degradation of this unique and special place?”
Included on the website is a plea to Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe, who represents Wonder Valley on the board of supervisors, as well as Michael Stoffel, the planning commissioner representing the county’s Third Supervisorial District, and Azhar Khan, the county land use services department planner assigned to the project. It reads, “The Wonder Valley community is a rural desert area with low density housing and residents, many of whom are retirees living on fixed incomes, other retirees, as well as a thriving artistic scene. They enjoy a quiet lifestyle and value the rare wide-open spaces, quiet environment and dark night skies available here. The Wonder Inn project as proposed would be unlike anything currently existing in Wonder Valley. It would increase traffic and associated dangers, lead to increased air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, stress to the water supply in our aquifer, increased dust pollution and pose challenges to our underfunded and already stretched thin, local fire and law enforcement resources and potentially disrupt local wildlife corridors. The establishment of this proposed project would also be a ‘foot in the door’ for further development projects further degrading the quiet, peaceful desert environment that Wonder Valley residents, Morongo Basin residents, visitors and others currently cherish and enjoy.”
There is concern that Mlynarski, who has been active in making donations to the electioneering funds of local politicians and who has deep connections within the government, will convince the planning commission and the board of supervisors to give go-ahead to the project.
The Sentinel is informed that Mlynarski and Greenberg met with roughly 18 Wonder Valley residents at the Wonder Valley Community Center on Sunday, May 1 to preview the project. Reportedly, Mlynarski told those present, the project was meant “to benefit the community” and to “blend and fit into the community.”
Neither Mlynarski nor Greenberg made a positive impression on those assembled, the Sentinel was told.
-Mark Gutglueck

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