Apartments to surround lake property | News

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An apartment complex made up of two “villages” connected by footpaths and bridges with Los Serranos Lake as a prominent feature was approved by the Chino Hills Planning Commission on Tuesday.

The proposed Rancho Cielito will consist of 354 apartments on 48 acres, including the 18-acre lake.

The development will be built at 15303 Country Club Drive, north of Los Serranos Boulevard/Valle Vista Drive and south of the lake at Lake Los Serranos Mobile Home Park.

The project will appear on the Chino Hills City Council agenda on Tuesday to allow council to call it for discussion.

The developer is mobile home park owner Jack (Jay) Greening, a longtime landowner in Chino Hills, beginning with his grandfather Paul Greening, who began buying property in 1945, including the Rolling Ridge Ranch.

The Greening family also owns the Los Serranos golf course on which they hope to build a residential development.

The complex would include the 166-unit east village section, accessible on Ramona Avenue with a second entrance on Valle Vista Drive; and the West Village containing 188 units on Los Serranos Boulevard.

The apartments will consist of 7 two-storey residential buildings and 7 three-storey residential buildings, 10 three-storey residential buildings and two pavilions.

The internal road linking the villages will be anchored to the two roundabouts encircling two mature eucalyptus trees.

A signal will eventually be installed at Bird Farm Road and Ramona Avenue, with the developer’s fair share of the signal cost estimated at $51,062.

The developer received approval to increase the height of the building from 35 feet to 44 feet to hide the mechanical equipment of three elevator towers.

Mr Greening told the Planning Commission in December that Rancho Cielito was named after the nearby dam.

It is also a term of endearment in Spanish meaning “darling” or “sweetheart”.

“Rancho Cielito’s goal is to create an upscale community compatible with our northern senior community,” he said, referring to the mobile home park.

“To that end, we worked with planners, architects and engineers to create a project with unusually generous open space and walking paths throughout the community,” he said.

The apartments will have elevators that will make it much easier for seniors and young mothers with children and groceries to get to the second and third floors, Greening said.

He said the complex will include a promenade and gazebo for outdoor events.

Considerable effort has been made to preserve and improve the lake over the years, he said.

Greg Dorst, who lives in the mobile home park, said the project would put animals and wildlife at risk.

“It’s the most unique place in Chino Hills,” he said. “You won’t find wildlife like this in any other area.”

Several residents expressed concern about the impacts of traffic in the area.

The traffic report calculates 2,591 trips per day.

Mr. Dorst said a signal at Ramona and Valle Vista would not solve the traffic problem when the real problem is the intersection of Pipeline Avenue and Los Serranos Boulevard.

The commission engaged in a heated discussion with the traffic consultant about speeding and the impacts on traffic.

Consultant Richard Baretto of Linscott, Law & Greenspan said a traffic light is not warranted on Los Serranos Boulevard/Pipeline Avenue.

Commissioner Mike Stover said he was also concerned about the configuration.

“I hope it won’t be put on the back burner until something happens because there will be a lot of people saying I told you so,” he said.

Commissioner Sean Phan said one sign may not have met the criteria to be installed on Los Serranos Boulevard and Pipeline Avenue, but he shared the same concerns as the others.

Ellen Gilfy, who also lives in the mobile home park, said she agreed the curve from Los Serranos Boulevard to Pipeline was dangerous.

Ms Gilfy said there were around 200 Canada geese at Lake Los Serranos.

Most of them leave during the day to find food at Lake Prado and return to Lake Los Serranos between 4 and 7 p.m. daily. “It’s a beautiful thing to see,” she said.

Ms. Gilfy said about 50 Canada geese live at the lake year-round. Environmental hoops

Due to its natural setting, the project will have to go through many regulatory hoops with the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish and Wildlife Services, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Biological reports to be submitted by the Proponent show that there are two plant communities considered sensitive: Fremont Cottonwood Forest and Woods and California Bulrush Swamp.

The site contains 2 acres of eucalyptus groves, 49 special status plant species and 51 special status wildlife species, according to reports.

A tree protection, replacement and mitigation plan must be submitted to the city indicating the location of all trees removed and protected trees in place.

Riparian trees should be preserved to the extent possible, according to the plan.

Nearly 125 different wildlife species were observed or detected during the biological surveys, most being bird species, including red-tailed hawk, mallard and black phoebe.

Nesting habitat for migratory birds is also present on the site, including Canada geese, mallards, acorn woodpeckers and hooded orioles which have all been observed during various targeted biological surveys.

Double-crested cormorant and great blue heron breeding grounds have been observed in eucalypts along the northwest shore of the lake.

Chairman Jerry Blum said Mr. Greening has been a good steward of the property, but the development will impact the area’s natural resources.

“I’m a bird lover myself,” Mr Blum said. “That’s one of the things we love about Chino Hills. We have a bird above the tree in our logo.

Commissioner Blum said if the project maximized the land with grading that didn’t make sense, he would have struggled with it, but the studies provided plenty of mitigations to preserve wildlife.

‘I hope you can complete this project over the next five years, Mr. Greening,’ he said. “Because it will be an asset and help preserve what we love about Chino Hills.”

Commissioner Sheran Voigt said she was impressed with the project, especially the elevators, which she would have liked to have had in her home.

“A lot has been done to make it a nice and beautiful place to live,” she said.

Mr Greening said he had heard the concerns about the wildlife and had worked hard to preserve it. “It’s very important to us,” he said.

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