PRESS: Press Enterprise – September 2014

This article was originally published on the Press Enterprise website on Sept. 19, 2014 by Aaron Claverie (link to the article).

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TEMECULA: Review of 270-acre housing project wrapping next year

Environmental review of a large housing development proposed for land west of Old Town Temecula should be complete early next year

Consultants hired by Temecula should complete their review of a 270-acre housing development proposed for the land west of Old Town sometime early next year, said Armando Villa, director of the city’s Community Development Department.
When the review is complete, area residents – including those who have expressed concern about the size of the project – will be able to read about how the development is expected to affect traffic, biological resources, the area’s water supply, cultural artifacts, noise and air quality.
“This one has a little bit of everything,” said Villa, who expects the review will be complete in the first quarter of 2015.
The development, which abuts land set aside for preservation by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority, is being pitched by San Diego-based Ambient Communities, which wants to build thousands of housing units on the acreage. The mix, which hasn’t been finalized yet, is expected to include condominiums, single-family homes and apartments.
Condominium projects in San Diego County’s Mission Valley have been mentioned as inspirations for the Temecula development, which has been dubbed “Altair.”
In addition to housing, the Altair plans call for a high-tech elementary school campus, public trails, a new north-south road that will connect Temecula Parkway with Rancho California Road, open space and land that could be set aside for a university or hospital.
At a recent forum for Temecula City Council candidates, the new road and the possibility of a university were mentioned by the two incumbents, Mayor Maryann Edwards and Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Comerchero, as future amenities in the civic pipeline.
The road – a four-lane thoroughfare with a public trail running parallel – is expected to lessen traffic in Old Town during the evening commutes, when many people use Old Town Front Street to avoid I-15.
If approved, Altair will become the largest planned development in the city since Harveston, a community in the northern reaches of the city that was approved in the mid-2000s.
The city in July hired Bay Area firm Environmental Science Associates to complete the studies, which are being paid for by Ambient. Villa said this week the firm has made some progress on the initial review and it is starting to get into the meat of the work.
With these sort of large developments, the studies have to be completed in a certain order, Villa said. For instance, the traffic study needs to be finished before the air quality impacts can be researched.
After the studies are complete, Villa said the city would assemble everything together into a draft environmental impact report and submit that document for public review. A final report will include the responses to any issues raised by the public, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians or agencies.
Many details about the project, including its footprint on area hillsides, haven’t been finalized yet but some residents have expressed concerns about any development in that area.

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