Frazier Park Estates Still On Mountain’s Agendas

From Reports by Gary Meyer

Whether you go to the June meetings of the Mountain Communities Municipal Advisory Council (MCMAC), the Lebec County Water District Board, the TriCounty Watchdogs or the El Tejon Unified School District (ETUSD), it is likely you will still be hearing discussions about Frazier Park Estates.

“But wait,” you may say, “didn’t the Kern County Board of Supervisors vote 5-0 last month to approve the 557-home version of the Lebec project that will surround Frazier Mountain High School?”

Not precisely. As TriCounty Watchdogs member Jan de Leeuw puts it, “It is not correct to say that FPE ‘has been approved.’ What has been approved is a minor amendment to the Frazier Park Lebec Specific Plan, a number of changes in zone classifications, a list of mitigation measures that are necessary conditions for future [approval of county permits for the project (i.e. of the tentative track maps, conditional use permits and building permits), a mitigation monitoring program, and a statement of “overriding considerations” for impacts that remain significant [saying that economic concerns override environmental issues—Editor]. What has also been asserted, by the fact that the [county] has certified the final Environmental Impact Review, is that this final EIR, and the procedure for arriving at this final EIR, do not violate the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) statute and guidelines. Of course, by adding it all up, the applicant [Fallingstar Homes] did make a significant step towards approval.”

The subject is not closed. The Lebec County Water District was asked June 7 to join the TriCounty Watchdog (TCW) lawsuit against Kern County for certifying the EIR before the developer has proved they have adequate access to a suitable water supply for the 557- home version of the project.

LCWD board member Steve Cozzetto expressed concern about the district incurring legal fees and de Leeuw said TCW has hired a lawyer and would be paying for the suit. Board President Darren Hager said, “It’s evident that we are fighting [the development]. We don’t have any money; the health department is all over us for violations. Our attorney is suggesting we stay out of it until they come to us and ask us if we want to hook into their system, or something like that.”

The LCWD board said they would be watching the situation closely. At the same meeting, de Leeuw said the Center for Biological Diversity has agreed to join in the suit, and TCW may ask ETUSD to join also. Frazier Park Estates will be drawing water from the same basin as the high school well, which has been dropping significantly.

In May, about 30 people attended the MCMAC meeting. Most appeared to have one thing in mind: water. The agenda included discussion of the MAC website and review of a survey, but those took a backseat after the public steered comments to the Kern County Supervisors’ 5-0 vote for FPE and a suggestion to support local businesses in creating an economy that doesn’t depend solely on housing development to increase tax revenues.

Now it appears the June agenda will look nearly identical to May’s, with Frazier Park Estates as a “discussion and possible action item.”

A proposal may be introduced asking Kern County to require the Fallingstar Homes to put up a bond to cover the costs to businesses and homeowners if the water table collapses within 20 years of the development’s build-out. In that case, expensive trucking in of water would become necessary.

This is part of the June 11, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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