Turf War

Rancho Cañada Village developer Alan Williams points toward the floodplain on Rio Road. He says it will be protected by his development.

Driving a golf cart through the overgrown west course at Rancho Cañada Golf Club, developer Alan Williams points to a former fairway along the Carmel River he’d like to dig up to create wetlands.

His goal is to give 40 acres of the golf course, which closed on June 30, to the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District and create a bayou to protect the Crossroads Carmel shopping center and 400 homes around Rio Road that lie unprotected in the floodplain.

The catch: The Monterey County Board of Supervisors must first approve the 130-lot Rancho Cañada Village on the other 40 acres of the property Williams is developing with Clint Eastwood.

“I’ve been at this for 10 years,” says Williams, who bought into a then two-year-old project in 2006. “I’ve been patient. Through the process the plan has changed, but it’s time to move forward.”

The final environmental impact report for the development proposed on former fairways is set to be released Nov. 9. The Monterey County Planning Commission is then slated to make a recommendation on the project Nov. 16, and the supervisors will make a final decision in December.

Some think the process is now being rushed to let outgoing Supervisor Dave Potter have a say on the project before he gives up the seat he lost to Mary Adams in June.

“We’re still formulating a position on the project,” says Priscilla Walton, president of the Carmel Valley Association.

The CVA submitted more than 200 pages of questions and comments on the draft EIR in June, a draft which Walton says was incomplete and riddled with inconsistencies.

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Only 20 percent of the 130 lots proposed are designated for affordable housing, down from 50 percent included in the original 281-unit proposal. (Those who buy deed-restricted lots would presumably build below-market-rate housing.)

This violates the Carmel Valley Master Plan, Walton continues, which requires half the units at the project to be priced affordably.

Looking toward Carmel Middle School from a cart path – one that could become part of a trail system connecting to parkland slated for the East Course, which closes Jan. 1 – Williams points out a plot of land where 120 units of affordable housing were in the pipeline. More than a decade after construction there was first proposed, the developer, TerraCorp, dropped the project in June, citing frustration doing business in Carmel Valley.

The 40 acres, Williams says, would link protected land from the east course to Palo Corona and other land on the south side of the Carmel River by a bridge on his property.

He adds the project just doesn’t make financial sense by selling 50 percent of the lots below market rate.

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