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New Times / News

The following article was posted on March 6th, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 32

Decision delayed to allow changes in Spanish Springs

BY NICK POWELL

For the third time in as many months, the Pismo Beach City Council discussed planning documents for a major development proposed in Price Canyon, but once again, no decision was made on the project known as Spanish Springs. Instead, the council on March 5 pressed staffers and the developer, Stephen Hester of BHT II Pismo, LLC, for more details on some recent changes to the plans.

At previous meetings, the public came out in large numbers to denounce the project for its size, impact on the environment, and strain on city resources. Speakers were especially critical of a proposed 320-room senior center that would sit isolated atop Highland Drive, a steep road through a residential neighborhood.

In response to their concerns, Hester is now proposing to scale the center down to 120 units and move it to the heart of the project, near the hotel, retail opportunities, and access to Price Canyon Road.

“It will have synergistic attributes with the village center,” Hester said.

Councilman Eric Howell requested that staffers return with more details on the type of services that could be provided at the senior facility.

Staffers presented an updated traffic impact analysis to answer residents who’ve complained that the project would flood sleepy Highland Drive with a stream of vehicles. According to their analysis, the road currently accommodates 1,200 average daily trips. With its two wide lanes, space for roadside parking, and sidewalks, it could easily handle up to 7,200 such trips before any noticeable congestion occurs, staffers said. At build out, the Spanish Springs project would increase the road’s usage to 4,630 average daily trips, a level similar to the well-rated Longview Avenue.

Also added to the project were a temporary construction access road that would allow trucks to circumvent Highland Drive and a special tax that would keep the project fiscally positive throughout all building phases. The council directed staffers to come back with language for the tax that would require the developer to prove that regular fees and taxes on homes covered all city services before the special tax could go away. The council requested that revenue generated by the future hotel not be considered, because it could go out of business.

City Manager Jim Lewis expects the council to vote before June 30 on planning documents that would allow the city to pursue annexing the site in preparation for construction. Many residents continued to call for a citywide vote on the issue.