Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

Tracking measurable success on preserving and connecting California's Parks & Wildlife Corridors

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Settlement is Reached Over North Monterey County Sprawl

April 14, 2008

Why LandWatch Monterey County And The Rancho San Juan Opposition Coalition Agree With The HYH/County Compromise on "Butterfly Village"

Something good happened last November, and another good thing happened recently. This memo explains those two good things -- but its bottom line message is that continued vigilance and public participation is vitally necessary!

Most recently, Monterey County and the HYH Corporation have agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by HYH against the County, in which HYH claimed that the County had treated it unfairly with respect to its proposed "Butterfly Village" development project. This settlement is likely to conclude a 20-year dispute over development in this area of the unincorporated county just north of the city of Salinas.

The announced settlement will require a major redesign of the proposed "Butterfly Village" project.

Both LandWatch Monterey County and the Rancho San Juan Opposition Coalition (RSJOC) have fought the inappropriate development of the Rancho San Juan area for years. Most notably, LandWatch and RSJOC have mounted two successful referendum campaigns against proposed developments in the Rancho San Juan area, to make sure that bad developments weren't allowed to go forward.

Both LandWatch and RSJOC agree that the recent County-HYH settlement is in the best interests of the community for TWO very important reasons:

  1. The overhaul and redesign of the project plan, as proposed in the settlement, make it a much better development; and
  1. Policies in the current draft County General Plan (GPU5), which is currently undergoing environmental review, accomplish the following:
    • Restrict further subdivision in the non-coastal north county planning area.
    • Restrict further subdivision in the "greater Rancho San Juan area," such that Butterfly Village will NOT be just the first phase of the larger Rancho San Juan project.
    • Prohibit the subdivision of agricultural land of statewide importance for other than agricultural purposes.

Both of these elements are critical. Together, the improvements in the project and the General Plan policy language that will prohibit irresponsible development in North County, and protect productive farmland, will ensure that the water and traffic impacts of the earlier project design are significantly reduced. From the beginning, impacts to water supply, water quality, and traffic have been at the heart of public opposition to this project.

Changes to the "Butterfly Village" project include:

  • Eliminating the golf course and replacing it with approximately 342 acres of combined public park and open space, which assures the project's net water savings and storm water detention on site;

  • Replacing the golf clubhouse, time share units and incorporating adjacent multi-family dwellings to provide a community health and wellness center with senior living facilities;

  • Providing a 10-acre elementary school site, which was not included in the previous plan;

  • Doubling the size of the neighborhood commercial area within the project to increase job opportunities and reduce the traffic in and out of the project; and

  • Increasing the affordable housing level to 32% from the 15% below market-rate housing requirement applicable to this project under the General Plan.
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