The Riverside County Board of Supervisors earlier this month approved a development agreement for six tentative tract maps allowing the developer five additional years to bring the Mead Valley area project, first approved by the board in 2007, online. 

“This is our first tentative tract map extension through a development agreement,” Sarah Moore, assistant planning director, said. “The terms proposed under the development agreement are to afford an additional five years to all six tentative tract maps making the final expiration date July 9, 2029 with no further extensions.”

The map area, as originally approved, includes 632 residential lots with lot sizes ranging from 12,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet, an approximately 2.3-acre park and about 48 acres of open space, according to the staff report.

According to Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, the development agreement would keep the large lot sizes originally approved for the project while also providing additional community benefits for the residents of Mead Valley like contributing $3 million to the county for the purpose of widening Cajalco Road and more than $2 million for the future recreational uses within Mead Valley and dedicate land for a future fire station, which will be paid for through a new community facilities district that will only include newly developed lots.

The developer must also meet all previously agreed to conditions of approval and mitigation measures and will also pay the county $4,500 per dwelling unit within the map area, which will be used for future development of affordable housing.

“If we can keep larger lot sizes in rural Mead Valley, Mead Valley wins,” Jeffries said. “If this tract map expires, and a new developer comes back with a new proposal, I suspect you would see dramatically smaller lots proposed and potentially significantly more than 600 lots.”

But for many of the residents who came to the meeting, a number of whom only spoke Spanish, felt that they had not been properly notified.

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“People in the community are not being told what’s going on,” resident Debbie Walsh said. “[The] developer never came out to anybody, we never knew what was going on, all of a sudden this comes up on the agenda, and the people want to stay rural. We want to have these improvements made, and they want to know what’s going on, and I think that’s where the concern comes in.”

Supervisor Karen Spiegel and Jeffries said that there had been a lot of misinformation surrounding the project that had caused a lot of undue stress for those living in the area, with Moore noting that all other extensions of the tract maps were either automatic statutory extensions as a result of state legislation or by ordinance.

“The residents have rightly been concerned about this development moving forward as it has sat dormant for so very long,” Jeffries said. “However, a lot of terrible, terrible mistaken information has been spread in the community and got people even more wound up over this tract.”

And while the developer was not required to make an effort to participate in any public outreach effort ahead of the public hearing on the development agreement, Supervisor Yxstian Gutierrez and Supervisor V. Manuel Perez both spoke in favor of having the developer meet with the Mead Valley Municipal Advisory Council just to update the community on the project, something Jeffries said he also supported.

“At some point, it would seem fair and reasonable to have your organization, your owner, come to the Mead Valley MAC and update everybody about what this development will look like in the future,” Jeffries said. “What’s envisioned, not what’s going to be built because you don’t know that exactly maybe today, but at least refresh the community as to what this development could contain or will contain in a presentation to the MAC and the community.”

In other board action: The supervisors approved a pair of ordinances that will give elected officials including the board, the sheriff and the district attorney in a 3-2 vote with Supervisor Kevin Jeffries voting against and Supervisor Karen Spiegel abstaining. Read more about the initial discussion here.

A full recording of the meeting can be found here on the county’s website.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.

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