11 May 2012

Even More Carbon Canyon Homes Coming?

As reported in the last two issues of the Chino Hills Champion, a long moribund project to build an unspcified number of homes on over 500 acres in the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon is being resurrected.

First, in last week's 5 May edition, the Champion noted that the Chino Hills City Council was to approve an agreement with a firm for an assessment of biological resources and native trees that would involve a significant increase from $70,000 to over $130,000 for the project.

Initially dubbed "Canyon Meadows" and then "Ranch of Carbon Canyon" which is more than a little ironic because whatever meadows or ranches existed in that area of the canyon would have been obliterated, the 1990s project attracted plenty of attention when the developer asked for a change in zoning so that the number of homes would move from 114 to 341.

In turn, the grassroots group, "Save Our Canyon," [a precursor of sorts to today's "Hope for the Hills," which has been battling the "towers of terror" renewable energy project by Southern California Edison], developed [!] the momentum to get Measure U on an election ballot and its approval in 1999 mandated that the city could not approve projects for more units than allotted on the Chino Hills General Plan.

In 2000, the developer went in and razed nearly 500 trees, mostly native oaks, as preliminary work commenced, but then walked away from the project.  Consequently, the site, south of Carbon Canyon Road at the intersection of Canyon Hills Road and directly across the highway from our latest suburban "improvement," the Circle K market & etc., retains its treeless appearance more than a decade later.
Taken from Canyon Hills Road looking south towards the area, across Carbon Canyon Road, that is now dubbed "Chino Hills Country Club," a residential project of an unspecified number of houses on nearly 540 acres.  The landscape still shows, over a decade later, the destruction caused by a developer who removed almost 500 trees, mostly oaks, and then abandoned an earlier version of the project.   The photo was taken on 12 May 2012.

Tomorrow's edition of the Champion notes that the project has been "rebranded" as the "Chino Hills Country Club," and, at a recent City Council meeting, members Ed Graham and Peter Rogers took the opportunity to mention that residents should "keep an eye on the project," though what exactly this is supposed to mean was not explained further.

What was noted, according to the city's community development director, is that the application from the developer will take about a year to prepare and then it could be up to six more months beyond that for the application to be submitted.  The project was described as a "blank slate" [also an apt term for the denuded landscape there after the tree-removal debacle.]

So, it will be some time yet before the project takes shape, if it does at all, but it is worth taking a bit of time here to remind ourselves that there are already two as-yet-unbuilt approved projects on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon.  The first is a 90-unit one northwest of the Carbon Canyon Road/Canyon Hills Road intersection and the other involves 28 residences across from Western Hills Country Club at the northeast corner of Fairway Drive and Carbon Canyon Road.  There is also the current, if slowly developing, "Elements at Pine Valley Estates" at the north edge of the Western Hills facility, which involves 98 houses.  Finally, the dormant Canyon Crest project, proposing 165 houses, showed stirrings of rebirth a year ago on 367 acres on the north side of the Canyon in Brea.

With all of the attention being given to the Tehachapi renewable energy project and its massive towers, it may not be all that long before a lot of that community activism might be needed again out in Carbon Canyon. 

Meantime, as council members Graham and Rogers noted, "keep an eye on the project."

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