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5-0 votes pave way for massive housing development

By Rene Ray De La Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted Jan. 26, 2016 at 12:01 AM – Updated at 10:54 PM

HESPERIA — During a boisterous and historic public meeting, a standing-room-only crowd at City Hall watched as the City Council voted to approve the massive Tapestry Project on Tuesday night.

Despite a tidal wave of opposition from residents over the last year and during the public hearing Tuesday, the Council voted to certify the Environmental Impact Report, adopt the Tapestry Specific Plan and approve several tract maps.

The Council voted 5-0 on the three items, with Councilman Eric Schmidt voting no only on the EIR certification, citing traffic mitigation concerns.

“We are pleased with the vote this evening and it’s actually the beginning of a long process before we can start to develop the property,” Terra Verde Group Director of Development John Ohanian told the Daily Press moments after the meeting. “The project became better through this lengthy process that we’ve gone through.”

Ohanian said as people understand the “long nature” of what could be a 30-year build-out, they will come to realize that the Tapestry Project affords the city the ability to do infrastructure improvements that “they would not get with piecemeal tract developments.”

As the Council discussed the benefits of the project before voting, nearly a dozen citizens walked out. One resident threatened to recall the entire Council and called them “traitors.”

The Council’s approval paves the way for the Texas-based Terra Verde Group to build its master-planned community of 16,196 units in southeast Hesperia. When completed, the development is expected to increase Hesperia’s population by 50,000 to 80,000.

The vote for the project did not come without some heated comments from the majority of the 20 speakers. One resident who interrupted the meeting several times was removed by a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy.

Public opposition focused on warnings that the project would increase crime, pollution and traffic. One resident called the Terra Verde Group “money gods” and “death gods” for planning to construct a community in the shadow of Cedar Dam, which could break during a major earthquake and potentially place residents on the Summit Valley floor in danger.

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