Meeting on Eagle Ranch annexation plans set for Thursday in Atascadero

Larger lots, fewer homes, relocated entrance among the changes made to developers' plan

tstrickland@thetribunenews.comNovember 14, 2012 

The largest annexation project to come before Atascadero is back before city leaders Thursday.

The revised plan for the Eagle Ranch development includes fewer homes, larger lots and a new location for a second entrance that existing neighbors say is a bad idea.

The development has been on the city’s radar for decades — adding new homes, senior housing, a commercial village and two hotels to a sprawling stretch of rural hills and valleys southwest of the city. It would add more than 3,000 acres to Atascadero.

March was the last time the public heard about the project. After nearly 150 people packed a City Council meeting to voice concerns about traffic and density, city officials ultimately asked for further developer-paid studies.

On Thursday, the city’s Design Review Committee will hear new plans for the project.

Area resident Nancy Spitzer said the updates pose some benefits over the monster-sized project originally proposed, but traffic and flooding are still issues on surrounding rural roads such as Atascadero Avenue.

“In a lot of ways, they listened to us,” she said, noting the larger lot sizes. But she feels like other concerns for roads in and out of the project are still being skirted, such as moving the second entrance in the area of a known flood plain, she said.

“It gets swampy, and we’re concerned about the flood conditions,” she said.

Spitzer is part of a group of about 50 neighbors in the project site, which borders the Los Padres National Forest. They say Thursday’s meeting was a surprise.

Resident Paul Hyman voiced concerns about it at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Council members said they were disappointed that the public wasn’t promptly notified and decided to make Thursday’s meeting informational only. The committee typically makes recommendations to the council. An action meeting is now planned for December or January.

Landowners Greg and Jeff Smith of Ventura are working with San Luis Obispo’s RRM Design Group on the proposal.

The details they present are part of a written plan the City Council needs to approve before studies can be done on whether the project’s benefits in property tax gains and area growth outweigh impacts to local streets, city services and the environment.

Meeting Thursday

Atascadero’s Design Review Committee is scheduled to hear about this project at 3 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 6907 El Camino Real. The design committee, formed in 2011, is made up of council members, planning commissioners and a citizen to make land-use and design recommendations to the City Council and also sometimes to the Planning Commission if needed.

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