Residents against a development proposal for an undeveloped plot of land near the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve received a small victory Thursday when a planning group denied the developer a recommendation.
The Harmony Grove Village South proposal aims to redesignate a plot of undeveloped land near the intersection of Harmony Grove Road and Country Club Drive, west of Escondido and south of San Marcos, into a residential village that would add well over the 453-home maximum currently allowed by the San Diego County General Plan.
To accomplish this, the developer, listed as RCS Harmony Partners, will need an amendment to the county's general plan -- which was approved in 2011 with significant input from the community -- a rezoning permit, and a habitat loss permit because the development would impact a habitat of Diegan coastal sage scrub.
On Thursday, the proposal was considered by the San Dieguito Planning Group but the group vited against recommending the development to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. The board must approve any amendments to the general plan, which was approved in 2011, and has the final say whether the Harmony Grove Village South development can move forward.
Residents against the housing proposal believe a development in their community would be a safety hazard.
"They're building more homes than the area is designed for and the general plan has prescribed," Elfin Forest resident J.P. Theberge told NBC 7 last May. "They're trying to triple the density in this little space than they're entitled to."
Residents are concerned that the development proposal is in a "burn" area.
"We're in an area that burnt not only 2 to 3 years ago in the Cocos fire, the entire area burnt. Theberge said. "I want the Board of Supervisors to look at this plan and to look at what the evacuation risk really is."
Fire agencies reviewed the development plans for Harmony Grove Village South and consider it safe.
Harmony Grove Village South is also the first new housing development in San Diego County required to comply with the Wildland Urban Interface plan. The comprehensive guide maps out a neighborhood's topography, water supply and potential hazards.
The development proposal is under public review until April 9.