10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County supervisors on Tuesday approved one of the county’s largest developments ever, the 11,150-home Villages of Lakeview, which is expected to eventually bring 30,000 residents to an area between Perris and San Jacinto next to a state wildlife preserve where hunting is allowed.

Supervisor Marion Ashley, who represents the Lakeview area, praised the developers, the Upland-based Lewis Group of Companies, for working with the community and designing a project rich with amenities, including parks, trails, a library, a community center, more than 900 acres of open space for wildlife and plans to widen the Ramona Expressway in phases as the 2,786-acre project is built.

“It is a beautiful area, and it will be more beautiful with this project,” Ashley said moments before the 3-1 vote.

Supervisor Bob Buster opposed the project, and Supervisor John Tavaglione was absent.

Buster harshly criticized the project, saying it defied basic planning principles to put so many people next to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area and dairies with the odor of manure.

“You have this beautiful and well-invested wildlife area, and you want to put this development right next to it? Why? Why ruin it?” he asked.

Buster said the project isn’t needed when the county and cities have approved 30,000 other homes elsewhere that are yet to be built. He added that allowing the Villages of Lakeview could further strap the county’s ability to pay for basic services, such as police and fire protection.

Supervisor Jeff Stone countered that considering such regional issues would be unfair to the land owners who have “inherent property rights.” Development will be needed when the economy improves and people can again afford to buy homes, he said.

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