By Mario Conde
The Calexico Planning Commission voted Monday to request more information and continue the hearing for further study on a proposed apartment complex next to William Moreno Jr. High.
In 1998 and 2006, Sam Jack submitted an application to the city for consideration to construct multi-family apartments on land located within the Las Haciendas subdivision in Calexico. The project did not come to fruition and was never developed. The De Las Flores 80 unit apartment complex constitutes the third development proposed in the area. The proposed development include 18 separate two story buildings consisting of sixteen, two bedroom units, fifty three bedroom units, fourteen four bedroom units, a recreation building, separate laundry facilities, an office, a tot lot and a large open centralized green area.
The property is currently owned by the Calexico Unified School District and in a letter by former superintendent David Groesbeck dated February 13, 2009 said that CUSD gave authorization to Sam Jack to file and process an application to the Calexico Housing Development, a California Limited Partnership, for the development of District-owned property on Highway 98 and Kloke Road. In the letter Groesbeck said that “Mr. Jack understands that here is no specific or implied contractual agreement with the Calexico Unified School District.”
However, CUSD Superintendent Dr. Cristina Luna said in a letter sent to the City of Calexico that the 80 unit apartment complex will yield approximately 37 students at grades K-6, 16 students at grades 7-9 and 13 students at grades 10-12. Luna said that these additional students to the Districts will generate an additional 2.4 classrooms including the necessary support staff. Luna added that the District hired WLC Architects to prepare a school facility master plan for CUSD and will include recommendations in future utilization or disposal of the 10 acre school property next to William Moreno Junior High School. “The master plan process may take up to 18 months to complete.” Luna said.
The meeting was attended by several residents living near the area most of them opposing the project like Joe Alvarez who said that the development will increase traffic in the area and will affect the school, devalue their homes, there will be a lack of police and fire presence, and increase crime were children go to school. Alvarez requested to give the property to the School and have more baseball and football fields.
Planning Chairman Carlton Hargrave closed the public hearing portion of the meeting and said to be concern of having people live in a compacted area next to school even if the project follows the City’s guidelines. Vice-Chairman Edward Higuera also asked about the situation with the Calexico Unified School District saying that the City should know first what the District will do with its property and said this could take 18 months according the letter sent by Superintendent.
Higuera also asked when the widening of Highway 98 was going to take place since it would key for traffic impacts because of other Housing development proposal near the area such as the Remington Condominiums south of Willie Moreno that was approved in 2006 and Los Lagos Subdivisions on Dogwood Road.
After some discussion and deliberation of the board, Commissionaire Eduardo Lopez made the motion to approve the De Las Flores 80-unit apartment and was seconded by Commissionaire Cesar Rodriguez. The vote ended 2-2 since commissionaire Ulises Cardenas was absent at the meeting. The board decided that more information should be available for this project and made a new vote to continue this item at a future time.