County board kills Merriam Mountains housing project - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

County board kills Merriam Mountains housing project

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - The county Board of Supervisors has voted down a planned 2,700-home development north of Escondido. After 10 years of planning and millions of dollars spent by the developer, Merriam Mountains appears to be dead.

Loud protesters greeted county supervisors Wednesday before hundreds of people packed the board meeting to sound off on the Merriam Mountains housing project.

People spoke for and against the development, planned near Interstate 15 off Deer Springs Road. One major concern was traffic.

"This project will add significant traffic to the area's roads as well as freeways," Golden Door Spa spokesperson Byron Blount said.

Wildfire safety of a development in a high-risk fire zone came up repeatedly.

"Kids are going to die on Merriam Mountain, children, elderly, everybody. One road in, one road out," one resident said.

Still, Merriam Mountains had its supporters. At the top of the list was project manager Joe Perring.

"We are building a 21st century sustainable community where families will live and play near their jobs and transportation corridors," Perring said.

People disagreed as to whether 2,700 new homes are actually needed in the county.

"The reality is we need to provide housing for people. If we don't do it here, where do we do it?" a resident said.

"We don't need housing up there. Where we need housing is down where the jobs are," resident Sandy Smith said.

The last time the board voted on Merriam Mountains, it was a 2-2 tie vote because Supervisor Ron Roberts was absent. This time Roberts cast the tie-breaking vote, saying in effect it was the wrong project in the wrong location.

"The communities of the 21st century are going to be different. They're going to have integral public transit and a lower impact in every way, sense and form," Supervisor Roberts said.

In the end, the board voted 3-2 to deny the Merriam Mountains project. Only supervisors Bill Horn and Greg Cox voted in favor of the development.

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