|An architectural rendering of the proposed four-story, 70-unit hotel in the Menifee Lakes Plaza at Newport Road and Antelope Road.|
Nine people -- mostly residents of the adjacent Palmilla and Oasis senior citizen housing developments -- spoke out in opposition of a proposal to grant an extension of time for the developer's plot plan and to ratify previous conditional use permits that are expiring. Plans for the plaza call for a four-story, 70-unit hotel, three major stores, a 6,500-square-foot building for shops, a gas station and car wash.
Concerns about traffic, noise, aesthetics of the architecture and public safety were the chief concerns expressed about the Menifee Lakes Plaza -- a proposed 16-acre commercial development on a vacant lot bordering the east side of Interstate 215, at the intersection of Newport Road and Antelope Road.
The project was originally brought before Riverside County officials by the Markham Development Management Group in 2004 but never received final approval. The case file was turned over to city officials after Menifee incorporated in 2008. In 2009, one of the first acts of the new Menifee Planning Commission was to approve the project.
"I feel like they're trying to shove so much into this space," Sobek said, "and a lot has changed in our area. There has been tremendous growth around us. I would like to see this not go forward and see what kind of modified plan they can come up with."
At least two commissioners -- chairman Matt Liesemeyer and Chris Thomas -- were prepared to OK the extension but agreed to allow more time for additional study. Because this project was previously approved by the city, any modifications in the plan would have to be negotiated between the city and the developer.
Many Palmilla residents expressed concern over additional traffic congestion on Antelope Road -- their only access in and out of the senior development. Marty Rosen, a resident of the Oasis community, questioned the need for a four-story hotel, which previously received city approval to exceed current height standards, proposing a height of four stories and 57 feet.
"I'm really disappointed to see that the hotel suddenly went up to four stories," Rosen said. "There's supposed to be a three-story limit. It's out of place. Everything around it is single-family and one-story dwellings."
Others expressed concern over the proximity of the hotel to Mt. San Antonio College, saying the hotel could become the scene of noisy gatherings by college students.
"Do I want a four-story hotel? No," said Thomas, "but this is a commercial pad and it is going to have commercial businesses at some point. Do we want to deny this project and get one that's worse?"
If the Planning Commission had voted to deny the extensions rather than continue the public hearing, the project would in essence have been killed, although the developer could come back with a different plan and start the process over again.
Ultimately, representatives of the developer who were present agreed to meet with Sobek and other commissioners during the interim to discuss their concerns. Sobek did not mention any specific modifications she had in mind.
Members of the public will have another opportunity to address this subject at the Oct. 8 meeting.