Temecula will be getting another McDonald’s and Roripaugh Ranch developers could be given more time, but the verdict is still out on a proposed 325-unit apartment complex.
The Temecula Planning Commission on Wednesday night approved a conditional use permit that will allow a drive through for the new fast food restaurant slated to go in at the Palomar Village Shopping Center on the northwest corner of Margarita and Rancho California roads.
The vote was 4-0—with Commissioner Carl Carey absent—despite a couple of people who spoke against the golden arches coming to their neighborhood.
Resident Cheryl Zenzola said she lives 200 feet from where the McDonald’s would be located and that it would affect her quality of living.
“The headlights from the cars (in the drive through) shine into our master bedroom and living room...the speakers are too loud...the parking lot echoes...and the lights don’t go off until midnight,” Zenzola said.
Representatives from existing Burger King and Carl’s Jr. franchises in the shopping center also opposed it, but for different reasons.
Speaking on behalf of Burger King, John Gantes said it was surprising the city would allow three burger places in one shopping center.
“Between Carl’s Jr. and ourselves, it would seem a lot more fitting to have a complimentary restaurant like Chipotle...” Gantes said. “I find it inconsistent with what the city is trying to accomplish.”
He also said the two restaurants have been in a financial “tailspin” the past few years and the third burger restaurant would only make it harder.
Director of Community Development Patrick Richardson pointed out that it is not under the purview of the city or planning commission to weigh economic factors.
“It is a free-market society,” Richardson said. “We are prohibited by law (from taking that into account).”
The new McDonald’s will have at least one customer who lives nearby.
“I happen to be a Filet-O-Fish person myself,” said Wayne Hall. “...I don’t eat out more than once every few weeks, but sometimes you get a hankering for it.”
Also on Wednesday, commissioners unanimously approved a recommendation that will be sent to City Council in favor of extending the development agreement for the Roripaugh Ranch Specific Plan by 15 years.
The development agreement was first approved in 2002; this latest extension, if approved by City Council, would bring the total life of the project to 25 years.
The plan, which covers a 804-acre chunk of the city, has been stalled in recent years but some new developers and investors have come into the picture and homebuilding continues, representatives told the Planning Commission.
“We have pooled our resources,” said Eric Scheck of Van Daele Homes.
Scheck said Standard Pacific Homes and KB Homes are among the current builders.
Some of those homes may be ready for occupancy by this summer.
Planning commissioners shied away, however, from immediately putting their stamp of approval on a 325-unit apartment complex proposed to go in near Wolf Creek.
The project, called Bella Linda, would bring two- and three-story buildings to the northeast corner of Pechanga Parkway and Loma Linda Road. In order to commence, the developer needs the city to sign off on a zone change. The 22.73-acre site is currently zoned for professional office buildings.
Commissioners’ concerns included whether the high-density housing—at 24 units per acre—was really necessary; the design aesthetics of the buildings; and whether 49 senior living homes proposed as part of the project would be built within a reasonable amount of time.
Coyne Development proposes building the project in two phases: first, the apartments and second, the 49 age-restricted homes.
City planners said the general plan does not allow for the high-density project alone, but does allow for a zone change from professional office if there is assisted or senior living included. As a condition of approval, Coyne Development agreed to have four of the senior homes built before starting on the 226th apartment unit. According to Steve Coyne of Coyne Development, they plan to sell the senior living project to another developer to complete.
Commissioner Ron Guerriero was adamant that on those terms, the project would not get his approval.
“I don’t want to see a timeline of 10 to 15 years down the road, that will not work for this community,” Guerriero said.
His fellow commissioners agreed their concerns needed to be addressed prior to them giving their consensus.
In addition, several members of the public spoke against the project.
Resident Lauri Lewis said an easement where the developer plans to put a trail belongs to her and other property owners. Disturbing the swale and concrete culvert that are part of the easement would create property hazards, she said.
Temecula activist Paul Jacobs said the proposed trail would “perhaps create a future crime scene” for people who might walk the trail at night. Further, he said he opposed the project because adding that amount of high-density housing to the city would delay police response times.
“This project only appears to offer quantity, which is good for developers but I see no quality...it is not an asset,” Jacobs said.
Others were concerned about increased traffic.
The volume on Pechanga Parkway is already high due to the casino-goers and employees, said resident Mary Towell. She suggested using the land as it is zoned, and putting in medical offices.
Another resident, Kathleen Montalbo said: “Clearly adding this type of a housing project is really going to affect the traffic in that area.”
Public Works Director Greg Butler said, however, that according to a traffic study, the residential project would generate about half the daily trips than the professional office buildings would.
The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians has given its blessing for the project after previous concerns over cultural resources were addressed.
The item was continued to the next Planning Commission meeting on April 3.