The council voted unanimously last week to approve a commercial and industrial land-use designation for the development that would eventually provide a new road that will connect to the Paso Robles Municipal Airport.
“The project will be dedicating land for a vital future street connection between Airport Road and Wisteria Lane to help airport-area employee and business traffic avoid Highway 46 East in getting to the downtown,” Mayor Steve Martin wrote on his blog.
The approval subdivides three lots into 13 on 77 acres on which the development will take place, with one undeveloped 135-acre lot. The property is north of Wisteria Lane, south of Dry Creek Road and west of Airport Road. The 13 lots are planned to be rezoned from open space and residential agriculture to commercial light industrial and planned industrial.
Two of the larger, original parcels are owned by Tom Erskine and a subsidiary, Ranch and Coast Properties Inc. A smaller 23-acre parcel is owned by Roll Real Estate Development LLC, a subsidiary of the Wonderful Co., the Los Angeles-based agribusiness that maintains Justin Vineyards and Winery.
The involvement of Justin Vineyards, as well as the planned removal of one large oak tree in the path of the new roadway, caused considerable controversy at the July 12 Paso Robles Planning Commission meeting at which that panel considered and approved the subdivision.
Justin Vineyards and the Wonderful Co. have been the source of public outcry since it was learned they have removed thousands of oak trees on properties near Adelaida to make way for new vineyards.
However, public concern at the City Council meeting had shifted away from Justin Vineyards and the oak tree, said Jamie Kirk of Kirk Consulting, the developers’ planner.
“Some people brought up the issues of the Justin involvement and oak tree removal but the focus of the City Council meeting was more on traffic and circulation than it was at the Planning Commission,” she said.
The traffic concerns centered on the planned connector road and traffic volumes on nearby intersections. City Planner Susan DeCarli agreed and added that the city is not concerned about ownership because Erskine, an experienced realtor, is the primary owner.
“Regarding the oak tree, it is in really poor health so it is a tree that should come down regardless,” DeCarli said. “Other oak trees on the property will be conserved.”
Any future development would use recycled water from the city’s water treatment plant. The city did a water-supply evaluation and determined that sufficient water is available.
No development has yet been proposed for the property. Now that the rezoning has been approved, Kirk said she will begin the preliminary planning and design work for the project’s basic infrastructure, including foundations and the Wisteria Lane connector.
“This project will take years to complete,” she said.