Fallingstar Homes Asks Lebec Water District To Reconsider Annexation

The board president for Lebec County Water District (LCWD) told The Mountain Enterprise in an interview April 14 that Frazier Park Estates developer Frank Arciero Jr. from Paso Robles recently asked him to meet privately. Darren Hager said Arciero was showing his new attorney the property near Frazier Mountain High School where Fallingstar Homes hopes to build.

Hager said he asked the water district’s attorney to accompany him to the meeting at a well-head on Arciero’s property, just off Peace Valley Road. Arciero told them the new draft environmental impact report (EIR) for the development has been completed and will be released for public review in May.

Kern County Planner Lorelei Oviatt told The Mountain Enterprise Wednesday, April 15, “The county is still reviewing the environmental document and getting it ready for release within the next couple of months.” She sounded surprised at Arciero’s comment and said no date has yet been set. "At the earliest it would be at the end of May or in June," she said.

According to Hager’s report to his board on April 6 about the meeting, Arciero asked that LCWD reconsider its March 2008 decision not to annex his proposed development. The number of homes planned by Arciero’s Fallingstar company for the site has ranged in various presentations between 662 to 820, with over 30 acres of commercial development.

The minutes to the April 6 meeting (which were released the morning of April 14) say Arciero told Hager he “would not sign a reimbursement agreement” this time and that all due-diligence would have to be done by the Lebec County Water District, “at its own expense” [see the full minutes at www.MountainEnterprise.com Community FYI]. In the first request, Arciero’s company reimbursed LCWD’s expenses for examining the proposal.

In the April 14 interview, Hager said, “Our consultants Kennedy/Jenks showed that the Arciero statistics were not accurate last time. If the new development had been built last year, our consultant said the whole [existing] community already here would have been out of water in nine to 12 months because of the drought.”

If built, Arceiro’s Frazier Park Estates would surround Frazier Mountain High School. Water table readings at the El Tejon School District well at that same location in 2007-08 were shown to have plummeted 53 feet in a year. The first draft EIR for Frazier Park Estates was withdrawn by Planner Oviatt in 2006 after substantial public comments pointed out numerous flaws in the draft EIR, including inadequate proof of a sufficient water supply to support the proposed doubling of the area’s population.

Hager said he suggested on April 6 that the LCWD Board not make a formal decision “until all the paperwork has been received by the district and can be reviewed.”

“Mr. Arciero offered the Fallingstar Water System to the District, but [said] the project did not need LCWD participation for them to move forward,” the board’s minutes state.

“This is where the community has to be involved again,” Hager said in the interview with The Mountain Enterprise. “When the report comes out we will be reviewing it on our own to see if it is worth hiring a consultant with district money. We and the rest of the community might have to fight this…If there are not changes to the plan, [and if Arciero is allowed to build] it could mean that there would not be enough water for the homes and businesses that are already here now.”

Hager said the board’s job is “to be fair and impartial to them [Arciero] and to the community.” He said, “The community needs to come to the meetings. I was hoping for a huge turn-out,” to the 2008 meeting at which the LCWD board tabled Arciero’s proposal indefinitely.
“This will be on the agenda from now on, at our meetings the first Monday of each month—it could be ‘no new news’ or it could be that we have received the new paperwork…so the ball is in their [Arciero’s] court now,” Hager summarized.
—Reported by Patric Hedlund

This is part of the April 10, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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