Lilac Hills Project Could Go Before Voters in November

North County supporters have filed paperwork with the county for an initiative petition drive, with the aim of placing the proposed 1,700-home Lilac Hills Ranch development on the November 2016 ballot.

Lilac Hills Ranch developer Randy Goodson, CEO of San Diego-based Accretive Investments Inc., said by phone that his company plans to support the campaign financially if it qualifies for the ballot, but he is not among the five North County residents, led by John Frandell, filing to begin collecting signatures.

Goodson said the supporters, who reside in Bonsall, Fallbrook and Valley Center, will seek to collect approximately 70,000 county voter signatures by around mid-May, for submission to the county Registrar of Voters. Paperwork for the petition campaign was expected to be formally filed by late afternoon on Feb. 3.

The developer said the approach is similar to that taken by supporters of a lagoon-adjacent retail project in Carlsbad, proposed by Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated, who last year conducted a successful initiative campaign to place that project directly before Carlsbad City Council for approval. A subsequent referendum drive by opponents, seeking to overturn council’s approval, forced a public vote set for Feb. 23 in that city.

The initiative move in Carlsbad was based on current California laws that allow projects introduced through public initiatives to be approved without having to go through certain environmental impact review procedures.

Goodson said his own project’s environmental impact studies have been approved by county planning agencies, but a recent California Supreme Court ruling – calling for more stringent reporting of projects’ statewide impacts on greenhouse gas emissions – poses complications for his and other large projects throughout California unless it is revised by the court.

Goodson recently decided to temporarily postpone further processing of his company’s project by county supervisors, while his company reviews the implications of the Supreme Court ruling.

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