Nautical Cove Development Approved

This evening, the Menifee City Council approved a new housing development called "Nautical Cove...

This evening, the Menifee City Council approved a new housing development called "Nautical Cove".

The development is a project of The Rancon Group, and as such, the audience was attended by all the higher-ups from Rancon, including Dan Stephenson, the head honcho, and Temecula Mayor Jeff Comerchero, who's Rancon's CEO.

Nautical Cove is a housing project eight years in the planning, and originally started through the County. Rancon hoped it would have gotten under way a couple years earlier, but Menifee Cityhood kinda set things back for them.

It builds 239 single family homes on a total of 77 acres, of which 14 acres set aside for recreational amenities, including 12 acres for the lake, and the rest for parks, recreational facilities, and paseos.

Nautical Cove Map
The development is located on the corner of Briggs Road and Holland Road, at the north-west corner. At its northern border is Wilderness Lakes RV Park, and at its western border is the unfinished "Lakes at Menifee" development.

Water Issues

Seemingly at the heart of Nautical Cove, as well as its issues against it, is it's own man-made lake.

Rancon proposed that the lake be initially filled using ground water that they pump up from underground. And then it would be maintained by rain runoff from the nearby hills and farms. The lake itself is part of the watershed that creates Salt Creek, and is actually intended to be a flood control facility, but conveniently doubles as Nautical Cove's main attraction.

If you look at a map of Nautical Cove and the nearby developments, you'll see that Nautical Cove will capture farm run off and channel it into its lake, then overflow into The Lakes at Menifee, which are then designed to overflow into Menifee Lakes.

Nautical Cove chain of lakes
But if it turns out that during times of drought there is not adequate runoff, it will be left to the Homeowners Association to buy water from EMWD via the same underground water.

Louis Mazei, stepped up to the podium to make a public comment that even though there are assurances there is plenty of water to support the lake, pumping out this water could adversely impact nearby residences that may still rely on ground water.

John Goodman, also stepped up to the podium noting that he represents a nearby farm, and that approval of Nautical Cove would increase the supply of homes in Menifee, and thereby lower property values overall.

Dan Stephenson, Rancon's founder, stepped up to the podium and brought in Ron Barto, a water consultant that Rancon hired to study the water feasibility. Barto displayed some graphs to the council showing that there is indeed plenty of ground water to initially fill the lake, and even refill the lake during times of drought.

What I found interesting is one slide dubbed "Extractions" showing the amount of water that nearby land owners pump up from underground. From 2005 to 2008, the amount of water pumped steadily decreased by about 15%. But in 2009 the amount of water pumped dramatically decreased by about 80%. Barto could not supply an explanation why all of a sudden people stopped pumping water out of the ground, but only suggested that weather may be a factor and/or nearby wells and pumps might have been removed due to increased development.

nautical cove ground water extractions
So consequently, the amount of underground water has actually increased by about 16 feet over the past six years, thus working out in Rancon's favor.

And just as an FYI, this underground water is not drinkable due to higher than allowed levels of minerals.

It's worth noting that water availability was a big consideration in getting the council to approve this project. Mann noted that "There is plenty of water to go around ... the lake under the lake has risen 16 feet in six years". Kuenzi noted that "I am one of the nearby property owners ... the water table fluctuates ... we are never going to have an adequate supply", but she went on to say, "This (Nautical Cove) is going to be an additional amenity to our community".

Before the vote was taken, council members were given an opportunity to issue comments. Mann noted, "I want to thank Rancon Group for taking care of all of our concerns". Mayor Edgerton noted, "This project is unusual in the amount of scrutiny it has gotten. Some of us feel we are moving too fast ... I would not be surprised if it passed unanimously ... They (Rancon) have a long history of doing quality work."

The city council approved the project unanimously.


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