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River Oaks proposes 271 new homes in Paso

River Oaks Golf Course looking to the northeast. Estrella Associates has proposed adding 271 homes to the River Oaks residential community on the east side of Paso Robles.
River Oaks Golf Course looking to the northeast. Estrella Associates has proposed adding 271 homes to the River Oaks residential community on the east side of Paso Robles. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

River Oaks, a master-planned housing and community development off Highway 46 East in Paso Robles, could undergo its first major expansion in about a decade if the plan gains approval from the Paso Robles City Council next year.

Developers Dick and Wes Willhoit of Estrella Associates want to add 271 homes on 113 acres, expanding their development’s already established footprint to the north. River Oaks currently has a mix of homes, Kermit King Elementary School, a hot springs spa, lakes and a golf course off Buena Vista Drive on the city’s east side. In addition to the houses, the expansion would include a new agriculture element and fresh amenities to its day spa and community center.

Design goals in the expansion are to “create and preserve a sense of uniqueness, attractiveness, history, culture and social diversity including public gathering places and a strong sense of place,” within the River Oaks community, the plans say.

If approved by the Paso Robles City Council next year, construction is expected to be done in phases over eight years.

The 271 homes would be divided among several existing neighborhoods: 144 units would be added to the “Traditions at River Oaks” neighborhood, an age 55 and older gated community; and 127 single family homes would be built in “The Classics” and “Vineyard Estates” neighborhoods, according to the plans.

The developers also envision an “agrihood,” something city planner Susan DeCarli says is a relatively new concept for the North County. It would establish a large agriculture farming area with a commercial farm stand on a greenbelt within the community. “It would be more than a community garden. More like a small-scale agribusiness where local folks can grow and sell vegetables and fruits,” DeCarli said.

Plans also call for adding a fitness and wellness center, tennis courts, warm mineral water pool, fresh water swimming pool and walking trails to the existing River Oaks Hot Springs Spa and Pavilion area. The existing open-air pavilion would become enclosed to house a community building for River Oaks residents’ special events with additional parking.

The plans would require the city to amend its General Plan to change allowed land uses from agriculture to residential. Changing such regulations creates a higher threshold for a project to gain government approval before proceeding. Water use also is an ongoing concern for Paso Robles residents. The city is currently reviewing the project application and working on the environmental analysis, DeCarli said.

The city’s Development Review Committee met with the developers during a recent public meeting and site tour. No formal recommendations were made on the project, DeCarli said, but the committee is slated to make its recommendation in early 2016. From there, the proposal is tentatively set to go before the Planning Commission for consideration in mid- to late- spring 2016 and then to the City Council by early summer.

Tonya Strickland: 805-781-7858, @tstrickland

Open house planned

Estrella Associates is planning an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday. There will be information stations about the project plans, with light refreshments served. The event will be at the River Oaks Hot Springs Pavilion, 800 Clubhouse Drive, in Paso Robles. For information, call the company at 238-1031.

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