Love the dreamy Murieta Gardens name.
[Full story published Feb. 18] The developers of Murieta Gardens began the Rancho Murieta Association board of directors meeting Tuesday with a presentation of the project and the changes that have been made as it goes through the Sacramento County planning process.
Murieta Gardens is a mixed commercial and residential project planned for 53 acres of open space across from Murieta Plaza -- bounded by Highway 16, Murieta Drive and Rancho Murieta Airport. It was first introduced to the community in 2002. The plan at that time had a supermarket and drug center, self-storage units, and over 200 homes.
During a half-hour presentation at Tuesday’s meeting, Doug Wiele of Foothill Partners detailed differences between a 2004 version of the development and the present plan, and answered questions posed by audience members and RMA directors.
After an absence of five years, developer Doug Wiele of Foothill
Partners returned to the RMA to present the latest version of the plan
for Murieta Gardens, a 53-acre project bounded by Jackson Road, Murieta
Drive and Rancho Murieta Airport. The project was first presented in
Wiele, the lead developer for the project, is partnered with shopping center developer Regency Centers.
Wiele said Regency Centers owns the property, and he described the company as “the largest owner of grocery anchor retail buildings in the United States. … They continue to be active in the development of real estate even in this down market. There’s no debt on this property. It was all paid for with cash.”
Wiele put the best face on the departure of U.S. Home Corporation from the residential component and the loss of commitment for a Bel Air market from the commercial portion of the project.
“When we acquired this property, we acquired it with an agreement to resell the residential piece to U.S. Homes,” he said. “We had an opportunity to throw them off the bus two and a half years ago. … When we had an opportunity to excuse them from the project, we also had an opportunity to excuse their 208-lot, ‘zipper’ lot plan.”
The number of single-family homes in the residential section of the project has gone from 208 lots on 21.8 acres to 99 lots on 19.63 acres.
Consultant Brian Holloway holds up a map of the Murieta Gardens plan while Doug Wiele points out aspects of its mixed commercial and residential development. Handouts were also available at the meeting for the audience.
“We had a supermarket when we came to you four years ago. That supermarket is no longer under lease with us,” Wiele said, but added, “There are grocers interested in it.”
Other changes include slightly downsizing the shopping center and increasing a two-story professional office building from 18,000 to 25,000 square feet. In addition, the commercial area has been extended along Jackson Road to act “as a buffer between the highway and those 99 homes,” Wiele said.
Another change eliminates a drainage basin and replaces it with grassy swales. A five-acre open space area remains in the plan. It would be accessible to the community, instead of private, as originally planned, and the residential area would not be gated, he said.
Wiele said the open area would be deeded to the Rancho Murieta Community Services District. Lone Pine Drive and Murieta Drive, private roads owned by the Murieta Gardens developers, would also deeded to CSD once the roads are brought up to county standards.
Lone Pine Drive would be extended across Murieta Drive to Highway 16 as part of the project. The access from the highway meets Caltrans requirements, according to Wiele, but would not have a traffic signal although “we have funds available to put a signal in … If (Caltrans) would let us put one in, that would be fine.”
The project would have its own associations -- a homeowners association for the residential component and a business owners association for the commercial area.
Wiele said the developers met with representatives of the airport and adjusted the plan to meet the requirements of the airport.
A self-storage facility remains in the plans for seven acres located next to the airport. A 1.7-acre church site intended for the Rancho Murieta Community Church has been eliminated from the plan since the church has acquired another site.
Wiele said the project has been endorsed by the Air Quality Management District and would be built to standards that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Director Dick Cox asked about water and sewer services and was told, “We have a big check ready for the CSD, both for domestic water and for wastewater treatment. … None of this can get developed until there is additional capacity for domestic water and treated wastewater.”
The CSD is negotiating with Murieta Gardens and other developers on an agreement to expand the water treatment facility and provide permanent spray fields for wastewater in exchange for sewer and water services for their projects. The soonest the facilities are expected to be in place is summer of 2011, Wiele said. That timeline assumes county hearings begin this summer and the planning process is completed this year, he said.
Wiele responded to a challenge by development activist Terry Hanson about zoning by saying the proposed land uses are “consistent with a plan that has been in place since the mid-‘70s.”
Director Mike Martel said an opinion from RMA legal counsel identifies the property as already annexed to RMA. Wiele said the developers and their legal counsel “have a different opinion,” but he offered to meet with RMA legal counsel and representatives for “a cordial conversation” about the issue.
During the rest of the three-hour meeting, the board considered or acted on the following items.
Ad Hoc Cable TV Committee to meet
The Ad Hoc Cable TV Committee meets 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the RMA Building to develop its charter.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Director Dick Cox was selected to chair the committee after directors disagreed, with some preferring to let the committee select a non-board member as chair. Directors Roy Harmon and Mel Standart voted to oppose the selection of Cox.
The board unanimously approved adding George Nelson and Ted Ryon to the committee.
Last month, the board unanimously approved forming an ad hoc committee comprised of RMA members and directors to address the cable system and ways to implement the recently passed bylaw amendment that would allow members to opt out. The committee reports to the board.
Driveway parking policy questions delay applications
The board approved five driveway parking variances the Architectural Review Committee had considered and approved, but put new requests for variances in abeyance until new guidelines are in place.
The policy guidelines will be brought to the board next month. They will go out to the membership for comment before the policy is adopted by the board.
Enforcing moving violations
After failing to agree about how multiple moving violations should be cited – does running every stop sign on Murieta Parkway to Highway 16 trigger a single fine or multiple fines? – the board took resident Wilbur Haines’ suggestion to amend the rule by adding a clarifying sentence. The rule goes back to the Compliance Committee and will also be considered by the Governing Documents Committee.
General Manager Danise Hetland recommended sending the amended rule out to the membership for comment.
The rules for moving violations eliminate the warning and go straight to a fine. Numerous violations within a year are subject to an escalating scale of fines.
Parks Committee meeting
Director Mike Martel reported on the Parks Committee meeting that was held in January with no notice to the public. At the meeting, CSD Parks representative Bob Kjome made a formal request for reimbursement of costs the CSD incurred as lead agency for the pedestrian bridge.
The CSD hired a consultant to prepare the environmental document to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act at a cost of $42,132. The CSD took on the role in 2004 at RMA’s request to allow the project to go forward.
In August 2004, the RMA board voted unanimously to authorize its Parks Committee representatives to approve the use of parks funds to repay the CSD, and the expenditure was subsequently approved by the committee.
The expenditure wasn’t part of the $1.5 million construction contract for the bridge that was funded by the South developer.
Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding with the Parks Committee, the CSD waived interest payments on the funds until October 2009.
The RMA took $88,000 from the fund in 2006 without the Parks Committee’s authorization to cover its legal expenses for the bridge, and Martel was one of the two RMA Parks representatives who voted not to return the funds a year ago. But at Tuesday’s meeting, he indicated he’d changed his mind about using money from the parks fund for expenses related to the bridge, at least when it came to the CSD. “I personally don’t believe it’s a parks bill. It’s an RMA bill,” Martel told the board. “I don’t believe that the bridge is legally part of the Parks Agreement.”
“The question is do we pay it now or do we pay it when it’s due, and it’s not due until October,” said President Jim Moore, and further consideration of the CSD request was postponed.
Below is live-blog coverage of the meeting.
Love the dreamy Murieta Gardens name.