In light of months of delays at the county level for a proposal to build a 120-room hotel and up to 100 new homes at Blacklake Golf Resort, the Nipomo Community Services District is pursuing changes to its water service policy that would lengthen the amount of time applicants have to complete their project applications with the county before their intent-to-serve letters expire.
Intent-to-serve letters are issued by the district and essentially say that the district agrees to provide water and/or sewage services to the project applicant, usually with some conditions.
Currently, the district has a “soft deadline” of 240 calendar days from the date the intent-to-serve letter is issued, general manager Michael LeBrun said at the district Board of Director's meeting Wednesday. In that time, the applicant has to prove that the county has deemed the project application complete, or the letters are terminated.
This has caused some problems for applicants that are held up at the county level for longer than the 240 days, though LeBrun said the district hasn’t strictly enforced the rule in the past.
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“Projects that do go to ‘deemed complete’ — it could take a week, it could take a month, it could take a year,” LeBrun said. “It depends as much on the applicant and the complexity of the project as the process. It leaves the district and district staff in a bit of a quandary in regard to this and in regard to our policies.”
The board ultimately decided to have staff draft a new policy that would increase the amount of time applicants have before their letters expire, though how much longer was not specified, as well as adding a new appeal process that would allow applicants to contact the board before their letters expire and prove that progress has been made on the application.
“These people have time and money invested, and whatever they complete is going to be a benefit to our community,” director Bob Blair said Wednesday. “To no fault of these people, they get tied up in the county or whatever.”
The board directed staff to bring the amended ordinance before it for approval at a later meeting.
The issue was raised with the district because of the pending application to the county to authorize specific plan, general plan and land-use ordinance amendments for the 515-acre Blacklake Golf Resort and residential development. The plans call for ripping up about 23 acres of turf on the 58-acre golf course and reconfiguring the course around new housing units and a hotel.
The district approved five intent-to-serve letters for parcels on the Blacklake property at its Oct. 22 meeting last year, but county approval for the amendments has been delayed several times since it was first scheduled to go before the Board of Supervisors in March. On Tuesday, the board delayed the issue to Jan. 12, at the request of developer Rob Rossi, though several supervisors specified that they would not be amenable to any more delays.
“If we don’t have something solidified on this project by January, I will be inclined to turn this project down,” supervisor Frank Mecham said at the meeting. “This needs to get done, and it just keeps dragging on and dragging on.”
In the meantime, the project’s intent-to-serve letters have passed the 240-day deadline (June 19), and opponents of the project contacted the district calling for the letters to be terminated, LeBrun said Wednesday.
After some discussion, the board decided to agendize the topic for its meeting Jan. 13, following the Board of Supervisors hearing. If the supervisors deny Rossi’s request, district board president Craig Armstrong said the intent-to-serve letters would be terminated. If the project is approved or delayed again, Armstrong said the board would determine the appropriate course of action at that time.