270-home plan submitted for Country Club

270-home plan submitted for Country Club
Since 2012, the Escondido Country Club has fallen into disrepair and disputes have arisen between the city, residents and the developer Michael Schlesinger. Photo by Ellen Wright

ESCONDIDO—Staff from Stuck in the Rough, LLC, the owner of the defunct Escondido Country Club, submitted plans to the city Wednesday for a 270-home plan on the site.

Ali Shapouri, whose civil engineering firm was hired for the plan, applied on behalf of Stuck in the Rough.

The city’s planning ordinance allows for up to 600 homes on the 109.3-acre site, although that number seems unlikely after the issues Michael Schlesinger, owner of Stuck in the Rough, went through when trying to build the original development in 2012.

Shapouri said Schlesinger plans to work with the surrounding communities on the project and submitted the plans for the number of homes to bring certainty to the amount of homes he plans to build.

“There’s been considerable speculation about how many homes are being planned, given the maximum number of lots allowed under the current General Plan designation for this site,” Shapouri said. “Hopefully, this plan settles that issue.”

The lot sizes will range from 7,000 to 16,000 square feet and there will be 31 acres of open space.

According to the release by Stuck in the Rough, the proposed plan will be developed in five phases over a few years, to minimize impacts of construction to the surrounding residents.

Amenities will include a pool, a clubhouse, steam rooms, a playground, trails, and a racquetball and tennis court.

Shapouri said they’re considering putting in daycare.

Homeowner’s association fees will pay for the amenities and will be intended for the residents but Shapouri said they’re open to allowing public memberships, based on public interest.

Workshops will be held to get the public’s input and Shapouri said he plans to make himself available for one-on-one meetings with concerned nearby residents.

Schlesinger’s plans have taken years to get off the ground, after a group of country club residents formed to defeat his project., or ECCHO, rallied City Council to designate the country club as permanent open space.

Schlesinger fought the designation in court, claiming the city wrongfully took his property and made it worthless.

He also put an initiative on the 2014 ballot to build 430 homes, along with an Olympic-sized swimming pool and trails.

That initiative was defeated by 60 percent of the voters.

Schlesinger had a lawsuit pending against the city during the elections and the results were rendered in March.

A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Schlesinger, stating the city’s declaration of open space unfairly discriminated against Schlesinger’s property and restored the site to its original residential designation.

City Attorney Jeffrey Epp said the council will go over their options in closed session May 20.

Shapouri and Associates is based out of Rancho Santa Fe and designed the Crosby mixed-use development and Cielo del Norte.

One of the major concerns of some country club residents was that they would be losing their backyard.

Shapouri said in an effort to address that, they plan on adding additional buffers to those homes.

At a meeting in March, dozens of residents spoke out in favor of some form of a golf course but Shapouri said it wasn’t likely from both an economic and environmental standpoint.

“It seemed to be impossible at best,” Shapouri said.

There is no recycled water access on the property, which would mean potable water would need to be used. That isn’t’ sustainable and would likely draw criticism, especially considering the drought.

“These are really nice homes, they’re high value homes, and we want to at least let (nearby residents) know they’re not going to lose the value of their properties. I believe it will enhance their values,” Shapouri said.

If the city doesn’t appeal the court’s decision, the next step will be for the city to comment on the plans submitted.

Stuck in the Rough will then need to make any necessary changes and pay for an Environmental Impact Review.

Public comment will be taken during a Planning Commission meeting, and the commission will either approve it or send the developers back to make changes.

The process is likely to take a year and a half.

Shapouri hopes to begin construction within three years.

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