Menifee City Council Meeting - May 5, 2009

The first part of the public meeting was a study session that started at 5:30pm. The study session was two parts, one involving land annexa...

The first part of the public meeting was a study session that started at 5:30pm. The study session was two parts, one involving land annexation for a housing development called "The Shores at Menifee", and the other involving a commercial development called, "Menifee Lakes Plaza".

The Shores at Menifee

This matter is more about the city annexing some extra land, than it is about the development itself. The development sits right on the border of Menifee and county land, as noted below...

the shores at menifee
The part that is in Menifee is the upper-left portion containing the three yellow parcels. The rest of it lies on county land. That's Briggs Road running north and south separating the two jurisdictions, and that's Salt Creek running through the middle, with Domenigoni Rd running east and west in the bottom.

The developer wants the City of Menifee to annex the county portion so that it'll be much easier for them to manage. As it stands now, they'd have to work with two different authorities, and two different plans, and two different bureacracies.

A representative of the developer stood before the council and gave a lengthy presentation on why the City should be totally excited about having this development 100% within its limits. He showed countless photos of how beautiful this thing is going to look. He also stressed the fact that right now, Menifee is really losing out because the City of Temecula has the more attractive market for housing.

However, IF the City of Menifee annexes this chunk of land, and approves this housing development, then Menifee will command the all the housing dollars that Temecula is getting right now. The developer did his best to really sell the council on this project.

He also said that because this development sits on Salt Creek, there will be green belts along both sides of Salt Creek, consisting of grass that could actually be used as park space.

John Denver responded right away that this proposed development must come with a really high HOA fee. The developer responded that it would not be anymore than Harveston, Heritage Lake, Menifee Lake, or Centex at the Lakes.

Wallace Edgerton asked if the home prices would be priced lower or higher than in competing developments. The developer said they would be priced around 17% lower than in similar lake developments.

Fred Twyman noted that the lot sizes are rather small, and the homes are pretty compact. In fact, these homes don't have streets, rather the developer used the word "alleys". Twyman went on to say that the areas on the borders of Menifee, such as this area, are typically where the 1 acre and multi-acre properties are, and that having such small cramped homes in this area is against the existing community make up.

The developer responded to Fred by saying that the existing economy, as bad it is right now, just won't support 1 acre lot sizes. He said that home builders won't even bother with it, and that the only way to sell homes these days is to build 'em small, and sell 'em cheap (he didn't actually use those words).

But the developer did use the words, "self-sustaning residential lifestyle community" to describe this place. In other words, it's going to have a shopping center, some restaurants, and a lake.

Scott Mann responded that he really liked the creation of green belts on both sides of Salt Creek, and that's he generally in support of this project. However, he was of the opinion that this presentation would discuss more about the annexation of land, and not so much the development.

Darcy Kuenzi seemed to say the same thing that Scott said, liking the green belts, and the project in general.

Note: because this was presented during a study session, the council did not make any decision on this.
My Opinion: We don't need anymore homes, we need more jobs! I recommend the council have the developer revise the plan so that the portion that's in Menifee become the shopping center, and leave the homes on county land.

And I don't understand this need to compete against Temecula. Why are we building a town for people who have yet to move here? City council members would do better to focus on those of us who are already here.
Menifee Lakes Plaza

This a shopping center on the corner of Newport Rd and Antelope Rd. It's the only empty space there is on that intersection.

The developer was simply giving a presentation on an issue that the city all too familiar with already. In that sense, he basically just flew through the details.

It'll be 16.29 acres total. 120,848 sq ft of retail space.

There will be hotel with 71 rooms, comprising of four stories. There will be a gas station with car wash, and convenience store, along with restaurants, but not certain if these are just fast-food, or what.

There will be traffic light built at Pampas & Palm Villa.

There will also be a 75 foot tall sign sitting by the I-215 freeway. This sign is apparently higher than what the law allows, however, the developer wants an exception to be made. It seems every commercial development has a sign that's taller than what law the allows, and the developer always wants an exception to be made. Makes you wonder why they have a law.

Menifee Lakes Plaza
Scott Mann asked if the developer conducted any community outreach, particularly since the hotel will be 4 stories, instead of the 3 stories that the law currently allows. The developer said they met with folks from the Palmia community, and that they were all very receptive to it, but I didn't quite hear what his definition of "receptive" was. He said they plan to meet with folks from Oasis on May 12.

Fred Twyman said his family loves to eat at restaurants with outdoor dining patios, and wondered if there would be any such restaurants here. The developer said that they have plans for restaurants to be there, but didn't go so far as to say what type, how big, or if they'll have outdoor patios.

Darcy Kuenzi said that she was concerned about the sign being "very visual". But she clarified that to say that she wants the sign, and the overall look of the development to have a very unique look. She described what drivers along the I-215 would see as they came from the north, coming over the hill, and down towards Newport Rd. She wanted this sign to cry out "Menifee", and not "Temecula". Perhaps she was referring to the "agrarian look" of Countryside Marketplace across the freeway.

It'll likely be June or July when the city council will be asked to make an tentative approval on the map.

Todd Friedman, a resident of Tierra Shores, spoke up with a public comment, asking about the traffic this would create. He noted the hotel would create more traffic, and that hotels typically attract crime. The council did not answer, with the Mayor explaining that they had run out of time on this study session, and that Fred Twyman had already expressed concerns about traffic also.

City Council Meeting

And then the actual city council meeting started at 7:10pm.

Public Comments

Terry Freeman, who lives in Tierra Shores, complained about the stench in that neighborhood. He said it's not coming from the Dairy, but from the RV Park. I presume he's talking about Wilderness Lake. He said they have their own sewage treatment plant, and that the smell comes from gases "burping" out of the treatment plant. He wants the city to get with the "water quality control board", to create more strict rules. He said the RV Park has made no changes to its sewage system since 1995. The Mayor deferred the matter to the City Planner, who promptly talked to Terry.

Chuck Ruetter, asked the city council to adopt rules that require home builders to install drought tolerant plants instead of lawns. Interestingly, I just got an announcement from Eastern Municipal Water District the other day that this Saturday, May 9, they will host a "Water-Wise Demonstration Garden Grand Opening" from 10 am to 2 pm at its Perris headquarters (2270 Trumble Road) to showcase water-efficient landscaping and irrigation methods.

I agree with Chuck, if the council is going to approve every new home development, they have to be responsible about the water implications, and force these builders to install drip irrigation, and xeriscaping.

Anne Weston, said that the county Planning Commission is going to hold a public hearing at the Eastern Municipal Water District office on May 13, 9:00am, regarding some zoning issues that may affect Procinctu, the private military training facility that's supposed to be going in just north of Menifee's boundaries. She also mentioned that the land where Procinctu is going drains into a watershed, and that lead bullets from the firing range will create lead poisoning in the water.

Abatement of Public Nuisances

This is a new ordinance the council approved at the last session, and is approving again for a second time. This time, Darcy Kuenzi asked the city attorney how this law could be enforced, eluding to some kind of vagueness in the wording.

The city attorney spoke up saying that this ordinance was created for a specific issue in a specific area of town, where off-road vehicles are making a lot of noise. This will give cops a means to bust those people, but that the law wasn't intended to be enforced regularly.

Planning Commission

The council adopted an ordinance that will create the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission will consist of city residents who will be referred to as "planning commissioners". Each city council member will be allowed to appoint one planning commissioner.

An argument discussion broke out over the process by which planning commissioners can be removed. Edgerton was of the opinion that they had agreed a commissioner could only be removed by the city council member who appointed him/her. The council members disagreed, that a planning commissioner could be removed by a 3-to-2 vote of the council members.

This apparently was a big bone of contention.

I'm not sure if there was anything to read in between the lines on this, but considering we have some city council members who are pro-development, and others who seem to scrutinize development, the potential removal of a planning commissioner could have political implications. And in fact, Edgerton stated that he did not want council members voting out a planning commissioner for political reasons.

The mayor wanted to know that the only way a planning commissioner could be voted out was for reasons of "cause". The other council members noted that this was a very difficult subject to define, and asked the city attorney to clarify. Edgerton ended up having a lengthy discussion with the attorney on what exactly "cause" could mean, and she explained that it's very unclear, and that it could create a legal nightmare for the city, should a planning commissioner decide to sue if removed for such reasons.

At one point, John Denver accused the Mayor of arguing with the city attorney.

This was probably one of the most heated debates between city council members I've seen, while everyone tried their best to keep their cool, and look professional. But the frustration was pretty well evident.

They finalized the discussion by saying that tomorrow, an application form will be on the City's website that folks can use to throw their name into the hat for consideration.

Curfew and Truancy

The city adopted an ordinance on curfews and truancy. The city had previously used the county's ordinance, and simply replaced it with their own, and it's actually the same law. Kids are supposed to be off the streets by 10:00pm.

Scott Mann asked if they should change this to 11:00pm instead, noting that his 17 year old son often drives to other schools because he's active in sports, and that many times gets back to town late, and needs to stop at a fast-food joint for some chow. There was some discussion on this, and I forget who said it, but one council member said that Scott's son wouldn't have a problem because he was such a good kid. I didn't necessarily see how that comment would help the other parents of this town.

Nonetheless, Scott shrugged it off and accepted the 10:00pm curfew.

The city attorney also chimed in and said that neighboring cities also have 10:00pm curfews, and that setting Menifee's curfew to 11:00pm would create some confusion.

City Manager's Report

The city manager presented the council with a proposal to create an ordinance against parking one's car on their front lawn. Apparently, they've been getting these complaints.

The council sounded in support of such an ordinance, but wanted some clarification on the definition of "front lawn" noting that some properties have a lots of acreage, and that parking one's car in front of the house could be construed as a "front lawn" if there wasn't enough definition to the ordinance.

Veterans Memorial

Scott Mann reported that progress is being made on the Veterans Memorial. They have designs in the works.

Also, he said if any veterans out there want to get involved in this, to contact him at his e-mail:


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