San Benito County supervisors Tuesday took a step forward on a proposed development at the Lima property near Ridgemark, but also held a lengthy discussion on its prospects and some officials even talked about a moratorium in the context of the consideration.
The agreement was to require Richland Communities, the developer, to pay all costs incurred by the county in considering the specific plan application, including the California Environmental Quality Act. In this case the CEQA review will require the preparation of an environmental impact report. The county agenda did not indicate the proposed number of homes for the site, but Chairman Anthony Botelho, the dissenting vote, called it a massive project.
The agreement before the board Tuesday mentioned a $50,000 deposit that could reach up to $70,000. Those dollar amounts had Botelho flummoxed.
Botelho expressed doubt developers had adequate essentials.
“I met with the developer and I expressed my concerns,” Botelho said. “I don’t believe they have the water. I don’t believe they have the sewer. They certainly don’t have the transportation network.”
He said he was concerned about putting developers and staff through the costly process with the potential it might not work out.
“This is a significant project that really needs to come before the board of supervisors and discuss whether or not this is the time to be doing something like this,” he said. “I don’t believe that this is the process that we should be following with this project.”
Supervisor Mark Medina took exception to Botelho and Muenzer’s perspective because he said they had been inconsistent in their treatment of such development projects.
“I stand here perplexed simply because several months ago there were two people on this board who had the same thoughts you did on a project off of Highway 25. These supervisors, myself and supervisor (Jaime De La Cruz), had no support from anyone else.”
Medina afterward said he was referring to the Floriani development near the TriCal facility that would include a lot of homes as well. He said the inconsistency, and willingness to move ahead on projects as long as developers agreed to reimburse for county costs, had him concerned.
De La Cruz took a similar tack, saying he didn’t really want to support the Richland agreement but felt there had been precedent with the Floriani Ranch project.
Supervisor Robert Rivas said officials needed to let the process play out and that the agreement was a risk for developers.
“To be consistent, this is part of our county’s process,” he said. “This is part of allowing staff to do their part to process this thing and to make sure we have the opportunity to debate the merits of this project.”
As for talk of a moratorium?
“We can’t talk about a moratorium unless we have data before us.”