Cornerstone Engineering's Darril Whitten (left) with a tired but happy Frank Arciero, Jr., after winning what could be the next to the last vote in a seven-year battle for the Frazier Park Estates development in Lebec. [photo by The Mountain Enterprise]
BAKERSFIELD (April 20, 2010, 5:30 p.m.)—The Kern County Planning Department was against it, but an 18.3 percent unemployment rate in Kern County and an uptick in business closings may have won the day for Frank Arciero, Jr.’s struggling development plans in Lebec. The Kern County Board of Supervisors said at the public hearing Tuesday, April 20 that they want to support Ray Watson’s desire to approve the 557-home proposal.
Darril Whitten, Arciero’s newest development consultant at Cornerstone Engineering, has been actively campaigning locally in the past few months, visiting mountain organizations from the Pine Mountain Village Merchants’ Association to Ray Watson’s hand-picked Mountain Community Municipal Advisory Committee members.
The MCMAC group responded to Mountain Community constituent pressure by writing a note to the Board of Supervisors reporting that the majority of those who had spoken up are concerned about inadequate water.
But Whitten said frequently that securing entitlement at this time does not hinge on his proving that he can find sufficient water with an off-site source as suggested by the county planners.
Frazier Park Estates plans to build the 557 homes with about 25 acres of commercial development surrounding Frazier Mountain High School, adjacent to the Flying J. The planning department advised a maximum of 188 homes.
They did not make a final vote today, but Supervisors told the planners to come back on May 11 with findings to support a motion to approve the developer’s proposal.
The development is contrary to the Frazier Park–Lebec Specific Plan which seeks to maintain a rural quality to the region.
“I can’t believe they totally ignored their own planning department and what the people who live here said we want 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 the region. “We don’t want to be like Castaic,” he said, “and that is what this looks like.”
Reported by Patric Hedund and Gary Meyer
Updated April 21, 2010 7 a.m.
This is part of the April 16, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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