Last night the proposed Pacific Highlands Ranch Village Center was again a topic of discussion at the Carmel Valley Planning Board Meeting. The meeting was well attended by concerned residents, especially from Airoso, the Standard Pacific - built townhomes that border the Pacific Highlands Ranch Village on Village Loop. Other neighboring communities within Pacific Highlands Ranch that would be directly affected by the construction of the Village Center are Arabella, Portico, Santa Rosa, Bordeaux and Soleil at Bordeaux. Present at the meeting to re-present the building plan were representatives from Pardee Homes and Lattitude 32.
Pardee and Lattitude restated the primary concerns which were originally voiced on September 11, 2007. They included first a concern over the existence, size and location of the proposed multi-screen cinema. Second, concern over the size and presence of residential condos planned for corner closest to the entrance of Airoso. Third, a question of whether the parking structure would be too large and imposing. And finally, there was some concern that a commercial building proposed at the end of the main pedestrian walkway would limit views to the South.
Since those concerns were voiced, the plan was adjusted to accommodate some of those concerns. And after hearing addition comments last night, the Planning Board was able to provide Pardee and Lattitude 32 with some recommendations After nearly two hours of discussion, Board questions, resident input and more, there were some outcomes and recommendations that it seemed the majority of the rooms was happy with.
With regards to the cinema, Pardee has agreed to look into making three important adjustments: 1) reduce the size of the theater from accommodating 8 screens to something close to 4-6 screens; 2) controlling or adjusting the operational hours of the cinema to limit very late night use and high volumes of patrons leaving all at once; and 3) implementing increased security measures - perhaps involving on-site guards and/or cameras.
The concern over the appearance of the condo at the NE corner of the Pacific Highlands Ranch Village was mostly centered around the initial condo building being 3-4 stories and being overwhelming and ominous compared to the 2-story Airoso townhomes. Pardee has agreed to explore lowering the height of the first (and most visible) row of condos to 2 stories or perhaps varying it from 2-3 stories for better visual appeal and to “soften” that corner. The 4-story buildings would be shifted to the interior of the plan to be less visible.
Pardee and Lattitude explained that the parking structure (4 stories above ground) would not be visible “line of sight” from within the Village and most seemed fine with the explanation in conjunction with the visuals on hand.
The final issue of the commercial building at the end of the pedestrian Village area was difficult to tackle because so much of it depends upon what is built around it and trying to imagine how it will look in the end. The Board mostly did not seem to have a problem with the structure, but did suggest that it be architecturally compelling and interesting since it will be so visible. They also suggested that the grassy area near there be enhanced, but with an “urban” sense about it. It’s not intended to be a place to go play ball, but rather a gathering place to families to enjoy.
In all, it was a good meeting that never got too heated and at least from appearance, most of our concerns were addressed or will be addressed. The next and possibly final revision of the plan will be presented most likely at the November Community Planning Board meeting in Carmel Valley.
As a resident of Pacific Highlands Ranch myself, I and my family are excited about the presence of the Village Center. My only comment at the meeting was that I feel that having a Cinema or something similar is critical in creating a Village Center that is a destination, not just a place to shop and leave. We don’t want it to become a transient center similar to Piazza Carmel. I believe we need a place where we as residents can walk, stay and enjoy; and with the current plan and revisions, it looks as though that’s what we’ll get. It’s important for us all to stay involved in the process though to ensure that we protect our interests and help make this community safe, friendly, usable and a joy to be a part of.
I welcome your comments on the meeting, the Pacific Highlands Ranch Village Center or anything else that you’d like to bring up.