Battle continues over proposed farmland development in Valley Ce - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Battle continues over proposed farmland development in Valley Center

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VALLEY CENTER, Calif. (CBS 8) -- A massive development proposed on farmland in Valley Center brought out a big crowd Friday at the San Diego County Planning Commission.

Developer R. Randy Goodson, CEO of Accretive Investments, had been waiting a long time for this day.

Goodson has been battling neighbors of the proposed 1,700 home development for some eight years.

“Fire service is approved.  Water service is approved.  Sewer service is approved,” Goodson told the board of seven commissioners.

The Lilac Hills Ranch master planned community would be built on 600 acres of rural farmland east of Interstate 15 along West Lilac Road.

People who signed up to speak in favor of the development outnumbered opponents two to one. (Based on preliminary speaker slip count.  See below for updated count).

“It's going to be developed, and houses are going to come in here, and this developer has a reputation for doing a great job,” said neighbor Larry Gaither.

 “I'm looking for more of a community feel, more of a place people can be proud of; parks and walking trails,” said area landowner Gregg Alexander.

Friday’s hearing was the first of many for the controversial project, which has faced an uphill battle against neighbors since 2008.

Elected planning groups in both Valley Center and Bonsall have voted against Lilac Hills Ranch.

”The biggest concern that we have is that you're effectively taking a small city and dropping it in the middle of rural land.  Common sense-wise, it doesn't make sense,” said Steve Norris, a Bonsall planning group member.

Traffic congestion on winding backcountry roads is another concern, especially if a wildfire rips through the area.

If the east winds blow there’s no west access to get out of there,” said neighbor Michael O’Connor.  “Especially the way the roads are.  They're winding and curvy.  They have a rating of “F”.

The farmland in question currently is zoned for just 110 homes.

Developer Goodson is asking the planning commission to approve a 1,600 percent increase in housing density.

Planning commissioners will tour the Valley Center site next week and an advisory vote is expected next month.

Ultimately, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will issue a final vote by the end of the year.

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Update:

On Aug. 12, 2015, county planning staff provided CBS News 8 with updated speaker slip counts from the Aug. 7 planning commission hearing.  The updated number of speaker slips were as follows:

Speaker Slips:
Total: 211
Opposed: 91
In Favor: 114
Neutral: 6

Speakers:
Total: 110
Opposed: 64
Favor: 45
Neutral: 1

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