Thursday, January 31, 2008
Despite being turned down by Carmel-by-the-Sea, father-son developers Bob and Curtis Leidig are still pursuing their proposal to build dozens of condos at the historic Carmel Convalescent Hospital property at Valley Way and Highway 1.
Last April, confronted by a swell of neighborhood opposition, the city’s planning commission rejected the Leidigs’ proposal to annex the unincorporated 3.7-acre property into Carmel-by-the-Sea. Now the developers are pushing their proposal through the county, asking planners to re-zone the parcel from medium density to high density residential.
Before the Monterey County Planning Commission votes on the rezoning, the Land Use Advisory Committee must make a recommendation. But at the LUAC’s Jan. 22 meeting, after hearing dozens of residents speak against the proposal, committee members postponed the decision to their February meeting.
While working with city planners, the Leidigs had scaled down the proposed number of condos to about 30. Now they’re back up to 46 units—nine designated affordable and four workforce. The old hospital would be renovated to include nine units and a community gym, and the entire complex would incorporate Spanish-style architecture.
The project would also remove 97 trees, most of them Monterey pines, and construct a 6- to 10-foot soundwall along the border with Highway 1.
“We’re very optimistic that this project will be approved,” says Curtis Leidig, who works for Virginia-based Aliant Development, LLC. “We’re gonna make this a beautiful historic project.”
A group of nearby residents has formed the Save Our Neighborhood Coalition in an effort to scuttle the proposal. At the recent LUAC meeting, opponents articulated their objections for more than an hour, arguing that the proposed development would compromise the neighborhood’s single-family residential nature and generate more traffic than the roads can safely handle.
“This attempt at rezoning will set a very bad precedent for other neighborhoods, not just here but throughout Monterey County,” says coalition spokesperson Myrna Hampton. “This is just not appropriate. It doesn’t agree with Carmel’s General Plan or the county’s General Plan.”
Once the county deems the Leidigs’ application complete, it will conduct an environmental review process. Planners anticipate the need for an environmental impact report followed by public hearings, says Monterey County Planning Director Mike Novo. The project also needs coastal development permits to move forward.
The LUAC is scheduled to reconsider the proposal at its Feb. 19 meeting.