Thursday, December 16, 2010
Conversely, his opponents will know if they have to do the same.
After a decades-long process that has seen Phelps sue the county just to get them to consider his project, the planning commission is expected to vote Jan. 12 on whether Phelps’ family partnership, Omni Resources, can build a retail and office center on 11 acres at the intersection of Corral de Tierra Road and Highway 68.
Unless planning commission staff or community members bring forward new information, planning director Mike Novo says commission members will ask questions and deliberate. No new testimony will be heard.
A planning committee meeting on Dec. 8 saw more than 180 community members register to speak both for and against the project. In the end, about 60 people spoke and the meeting that began in the morning ran until 5:30pm, resulting in postponement of the decision until next month.
The commission staff already has requested changes to Phelps’ project, known as the Corral de Tierra Neighborhood Retail Village. Phelps has proposed building a 126,000-square-foot complex to include a 40,000-square-foot grocery store and ancillary retail, including a pharmacy, dry cleaner, bank and coffee shop, as well as a two-story office building.
Phelps has since dialed back his plans, taking the retail component down to what he describes as a “hybrid” plan coming in at 121,000 square feet.
County staff, though, wants him to reduce it further, to about 112,000 square feet.
“Some people say it’s too big, but we’ve done an economic evaluation and if we can capture 80 percent of the people in Corral and 60 percent of the Toro Park community, it would support the retail village we’re trying to build,” Phelps says. He says the project, too, would create jobs both during the $25 million construction phase, plus 250 permanent jobs when the project is complete.
Opponents fear the center could lead to horrible traffic congestion and impact the semi-rural way of life. But there also is concern the center will drain the area’s already waning water supply.
The wells that are dropping several feet per year are nearest to the proposed development, says resident Beverly Bean.
“People say the man has a right to develop his property, but bottom line, the problem is water,” Bean says. “What’s the back-up plan for when the wells fail?”