A 65-acre multi-use sports complex was approved today to be built in Wine Country.
The Riverside County Planning Commission voted 4-1 to let the complex go at , an equestrian center on Los Caballos and Pauba roads.
The plan was approved in February, but a group of residents filed an appeal, bringing it to the planning commission for a vote at Perris City Hall on Wednesday.
The plans include several sports fields, a single-acre vendor area with two 4,800-square-foot shade structures and 1,930 parking spaces, according to a county report.
The owner, Ken Smith, aims to rent the fields for non-equestrian, non-motorized sports, according to Galway Downs manager Robert Kellerhouse.
The county attached requirements to the project’s approval.
They were required to install a left-turn lane on Highway 79 at Los Caballos Road before opening any more than four fields, according to county records.
At the meeting, planning commissioners tacked on two more stipulations. They must use Bermuda grass on the fields, which consumes less water than other kinds, and they have to file an update on the complex’s progress once a year with the county planning department.
Not everyone was happy with the vote. “I don’t think the conditions they added do enough to mitigate this project’s significant impacts,” said Kimberly Foy, who represented the appellants.
Commissioner John Roth cast the only vote in favor of the appeal. “I have problems with the amount of detail presented here,” he said. “I’m concerned about the light and noise issues.”
Noise and traffic
A few dozen residents filled the seats of the Perris City Council chamber to talk to the commission both in support and in protest of the project.
Putting a sports complex in an area that was supposed to be for houses and farms is unfair to current residents, said Bill Dickinson, who bought a home nearby three years ago.
“I can’t comprehend anybody would think soccer fields would be compatible with equestrian use,” he said at the meeting.
Sports fields are noisy places, and the area right now is often dead quiet, said Dan Matrisciano, a Wine Country resident. “They’re sports teams, so they’ll make boisterous noise,” he said.
The sports fields would be one more step toward robbing Wine Country of its rural character, said Ida Martin, an Aguanga resident. “I’m more interested in the cumulative impact (of new development),” Martin said at the meeting.
Putting sports fields on the property will cause less traffic and noise than building houses on the land, which is what previous owners of the property planned, Kellerhouse said.
“Unlike previous owners of Galway, Ken Smith is local,” Kellerhouse said. “”We no longer had a developer saying, ‘Let’s scrape by, and next year we’ll start looking at houses.’”
The fields will take up only a small portion of Galway Downs’ 242-acre property, which is nothing to worry about, said Pat Ommert, who lived in Wine Country since 1968 until she moved to Burbank in 2007.
“They’re only adding 65 acres of fields,” she said. “It will be a beautiful addition to a huge piece of property.”