Cornerstone Engineering’s Darril Whitten (left) with a tired but happy Frank Arciero, Jr. April 20 after winning what could be the next-to-the-last vote in a seven-year battle for the Frazier Park Estates development in Lebec.
By Patric Hedlund and Gary Meyer
The Kern County Planning Department was against it, but an 18.3 percent unemployment rate in Kern County may have won the day for developer Frank Arciero, Jr.’s struggling Frazier Park Estates plan in Lebec. The Kern County Board of Supervisors on April 20 followed Supervisor Ray Watson’s wish to approve the 557-home project.
Darril Whitten, Arciero’s newest development consultant at Cornerstone Engineering, has been actively campaigning in the past few months, visiting mountain organizations from the Pine Mountain Village Merchants’ Association to Ray Watson’s hand-picked Mountain Communities Municipal Advisory Council (MCMAC).
The MCMAC group responded to constituents’ comments by writing a note to the Board of Supervisors to say that the majority of those who had spoken up are concerned about inadequate water for the development. But Whitten said frequently that securing entitlement at this time does not hinge on proving that he can find sufficient water with an off-site source as suggested by the county planners.
Fallingstar Homes wants to build about 25 acres of commercial development adjacent to the Flying J and 557 homes surrounding Frazier Mountain High School. The planning department advised a maximum of 188 homes. Arciero’s plan contradicts the Frazier Park–Lebec Specific Plan which seeks to preserve the region’s rural quality.
“They totally ignored their own planners and what the people who live here said in our own Specific Plan,” said Eric Anderson of Pinon Pines. He testified at the hearing and supports economic development built around ecotourism, featuring the natural attractions and festivals of this region. “We don’t want to be like Castaic,” he said, “and that is what this looks like.”
The supervisors did not take a final vote at the April 20 hearing, but told the planners to come back on May 11 with findings “to support a motion to approve” the developer’s proposal.
This is part of the April 23, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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