Walking paths, pocket parks and trails will connect the neighborhoods planned for the 131-acre Dalidio property to a network of open spaces surrounding the proposed development.
As many as 500 single-family homes, designed to be affordable rather than luxurious, will serve as the core of the predominantly residential project, according to conceptual plans presented to the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission on Wednesday.
Planning commissioners voiced support for continuing to study the project, located at the southern end of San Luis Obispo, across from the SLO Promenade shopping center on Madonna Road.
The homes would be built in bungalow and craftsman styles — reminiscent of past San Luis Obispo architecture.
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“We want it to represent the historic context of San Luis Obispo,” said Erik Justesen, chief executive officer of RRM Design Group.
Developer Gary Grossman of Coastal Community Builders, who is in escrow for the Dalidio Ranch, also plans an enclave of commercial space capped at about 200,000 square feet, office space and a 200-room high-end hotel with room for conference facilities.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first opportunity for the public to comment on the project. Several speakers questioned whether enough agricultural land would be preserved.
“I think we all know this is the best farmland in the county,” said resident Jamie Lopes, who said he thought the overall project was a great opportunity for the city.
Lopes advocated for reducing the number of homes to preserve more farmland.
“Farmland is so important that the city should give it as much attention as other development concepts,” he said.
The city’s general plan for development requires that 50 percent of the property be preserved as agricultural open space.
At the developer’s request, the San Luis Obispo City Council agreed to study the possibility of allowing a small portion of the required open space, up to 10 acres, to be fulfilled off-site by another property with similar agricultural and visual components. If approved, the number of off-site acres required to be saved as open space would be significantly more.
Concerns about preserving the farmland are not new. Development of the Dalidio property has been controversial in the past, both because of the potential conversion of agricultural lands and its prominent location in the city.
The City Council will decide April 1 whether the developer should submit a formal application for the project. The council’s approval is needed because the project will require a specific plan and a general plan amendment.
In addition to open space and agriculture preservation, issues that will have to be addressed include the project’s compatibility with the county’s Airport Land Use Plan, flood protection and traffic and circulation.
Developers would be required to contribute to the construction of a new Prado Road/Highway 101 interchange if an environmental impact report deems it necessary; that report is now underway and expected to be completed in May.
“We have reserved land for it if it is required to be built,” said Marshall Ochylski, a San Luis Obispo attorney hired by Grossman to represent the project.