A real estate investment group, led by local resident and businessman Kevin McNamara, recently has acquired an option to purchase the shuttered StoneRidge Country Club property and has put forth a conceptual land use plan for community input. To better understand the proposed plan and how it would impact and/or benefit local residents and the greater Poway community, the GVCA contacted Mr. McNamara with a series of pointed questions. The following is the verbatim Q&A.*
PLEASE NOTE: The GVCA does not endorse or oppose any proposal at this time. We are providing this information to the community to keep you informed and to encourage your constructive input and comments. Any change in land use from the current OS-R zoning of this property will require a public vote known as Prop FF.
Q & A WITH KEVIN MCNAMARA, AUGUST 2018
As a preface to our comments, I want to stress that this is just our first draft of a plan. We are continuing to try and improve it. For example, the access to houses off of Cloudcroft Ct was an oversight and is currently being adjusted. The homes will be accessed internally from the beer garden area. We are looking for input from the community and encourage you to send us your comments, ideas, or criticisms to YourPoway@gmail.com. I answer all the emails.
Why did you decide to pursue development at SRCC at this time and so soon after the previous ballot measure failed? Stoneridge has become an uninhabitable building, often vandalized, surrounded by a deteriorating vacant lot. The trees are dying and the future condition of the land is hopeless unless something is done. It is a fenced in property with no connectivity to any other open space or natural habitat that will never be a functional property for Poway residents unless we do something. I’d like Poway to determine its own fate. I feel that I have a singular resume to get something of quality accomplished and I enjoy challenges. After the election I felt the opportunity was there if a local person pursued a true vision that is reflective of Poway.
What experience do you have in this type of development? We’ve assembled a team of long time land and entitlement experts; including local Poway architect Roger Basinger. We will also retain an agricultural expert as part of the team as we are looking at this project as an “Agrihood”. I was Planning Board Chair in Penasquitos for a number of years in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and we were responsible for negotiating a large number of development agreements in the City and County. These included the 12,000 acre Future Urbanizing Area, 4S Ranch, SR 56, and the Black Mountain Open Space Park. I learned quite a bit and feel that we were quite effective and represented the community well. I started in real estate in 1974 so I’ve been around for a while.
Why do you think the community would support rezoning the property to something other than the current Open Space-Recreational (OS-R)? Poway voters are smart. If the property was to retain the OS-R designation under the current ownership, it would sit fallow and no enhancements or beautification could be anticipated onsite. Under our proposal a Specific Plan would, very unambiguously, land plan the property with a variety of wonderful amenities for use by all Poway residents. If a high quality project with community appropriate density and product type with public amenities and permanent open space goes through the entire planning process, which has never been done prior to a Prop FF vote, why wouldn’t there be strong support? If the project is approved, Poway residents will once again have full use of the property.
How many and what types of housing units will be proposed? We are planning approximately 162 homes to help serve empty nesters, young families, and residents that want to be part of an agrihood development. We are also proposing an approximate 100 ft. buffer between existing homes and any new development. Our concept is unique and will be a wonderful addition to Poway We are still in the early stages but we are looking at farm-style single family detached and twin homes to help stay in character with the surrounding community.
What commercial and/or public uses will be proposed? The proposed project is full of amenities for all Poway residents. There will be thoughtfully designed community gathering spots. The proposed design includes several ponds, pocket parks, community gardens, all connected through a series of trails. A proposed four acre Swim and Racquet Club as well as a beer, wine, and coffee garden. We are working on including potential vineyards, hops, and/or flower growing operations. As well as a traditional country barn built as a community center and a new clubhouse to highlight Poway character. In addition to all of this we are proposing a Butterfly Vivarium which brings a unique quiet beauty to the project. All of this will be processed under a Specific Plan which will prevent deviations from whatever City Council approves - that includes preventing any increase to density or intensity of use.
Will a golf course, tennis courts, pool and/or clubhouse be part of the proposed plan? If not, why not? We are planning a new Swim & Racquet Club with a clubhouse which would be available with a membership or fee to the public. We are looking at 5 new lighted tennis courts, 4 new paddle tennis courts, and 2 swimming pools with one being a 25 yard 4 lane pool lap pool and the other a family pool. There will not be a golf course. The CUP that Stoneridge operated under was automatically terminated six months after the gates were closed. Golf is not financeable or profitable anymore. We’ve talked with four different golf consultants and the unanimous opinion is that there is no chance for success.
How would the proposed development be similar to the "Agritopia" development in Gilbert, AZ? We are planning several community gardens, private gardens, a huge picnic area, as well as some professional agriculture cultivation. It will be a great place for empty nesters or young families to live. Agritopia is a great project. It is a model of how an agrihood can work. We are trying to enhance that model with additional amenities available to all Poway Residents.
How will Poway residents benefit from rezoning the property to the proposed development? There will be absolute certainty on what will happen. The property will be enhanced and not left fallow. The City Council will, hopefully, work with us to approve the project and then the voters will have their say. There will be no empty promises. The project will be set in stone per Council Approvals and the associated Specific Plan, so voters will know exactly what they are voting to approve. The proposed amenities in addition to, the neighborhood Beer, Wine, Coffee Garden and available memberships to the Swim & Tennis Club will include several ponds, a 4+ acre butterfly farm, a potential greenhouse area for the garden clubs, a possible 1.5 acre permanent home for the Poway 4H, open space and agricultural areas that will be dedicated as permanent open space, hiking and biking, horse trails, the barn as a community center and all of this available to the public.
How will you gather and incorporate input on the development concept? We have had a few neighborhood meetings so far. We’ve postponed quite a few more until we get the housing defined so we have at least a more refined project to discuss. We’ll try and have as many neighborhood meetings throughout the city as possible. Anybody who wants to meet with us can just email us at YourPoway@gmail.com and we’ll schedule something. After we submit our plans to the city then the city will host a number of public workshops. This campaign will be as grass roots as it gets.
Regardless of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) results, how would you mitigate impact on schools, water/sewer usage, traffic, noise, etc.? I can’t answer this yet. We will study the impacts and any mitigation that is appropriate through the design of the project.
What would property owner Michael Schlesinger's involvement be in the development? Mr. Schlesinger does not have any involvement in this project, publicly or behind the scenes. I’ve never met him, talked to him, or sent or received an email from him. The option was negotiated for me by a broker. Mr. Schlesinger will only regain control of the property if the Poway residents vote no on this project.
Will a specific plan be presented to the City of Poway for approval prior to the measure going to a rezoning vote? Yes. The entire process will be public.
Will you collect signatures to qualify for a ballot measure or directly seek council approval? We plan on the City Council, if they approve the project, putting this on the ballot. If we decide to get signatures they will only be a sign of support not collected by paid gatherers. My partners and I may come knocking at your door to keep communication open and rally support.
If the measure is approved, what assurances will the public have that more development will not be requested in the future? The project will be processed under a specific plan which is the mechanism used to prevent any increase in density or intensity. This means that the project the City Council approves, will be the project that the City residents vote on, and will not be subject to any change through a future Prop FF vote.
When do you expect this to go to the ballot for a public vote? November 2020.
Will affordable housing be part of the project? No