Friday, August 11, 2018 – 08:00 p.m.
What appeared to be a stoic Highland City Council, a majority of which appeared very unhappy, removed their rubber stamp of approval from the massive 3,600-home Harmony Project on Wednesday evening.
The move came at a special meeting in front of a packed house, which lasted just under thirty minutes, with the festivities consisting mainly of residence and groups voicing continued opposition to the poorly-conceived plan and Mayor Larry McCallon threatening to throw spectators out of the council chamber.
However the hastily-approved deal, benefiting Upland Developers Randall and Richard Lewis and property owner Orange County Flood Control District, is by know means dead and buried.
This project is coming back under a revised Environmental Impact Report (EIR). You can bank on it!
City staff has made this point very clear to all involved.
Also dealt with at the meeting was the removal from the November ballot of a resident-lead voter referendum on the project.
It’s abundantly clear that voter’s would have tubed the project in its entirety if given the opportunity and a “no” vote on any measure would have given more velocity to community attempts to kill any future deal.
It took petitions threatening to recall city council members who supported the deal to get the referendum go ahead. Now residents won’t be heard on the issue until the project rears its ugly head in the future.
How anyone could fathom building a project adding another 10,000 residents with limited ingress and egress in a fire and flood zone is amazing.
The proposed project would either dump commuters into the Redlands/Yucaipa area in a multi-mile quest to find Interstate 10, or onto Greenspot Road, where driver’s will battle a bottleneck at State Highway 210, in order to escape the area.
The situation would make rush hour commute brutal to say the least.
Another sore subject is the projected tens of millions of dollars in public works costs related to a needed flood control bridge and other road work.
San Bernardino County County Flood Control has already drawn-up plans for a two-lane bridge over the existing flood control channels, but the agency had declined to alter the design to a four-lane configuration unless either the city or the developer coughed up the dough to pay for it.
The list of entities that could conceivably pickup the tab on the eight-figure cost for the bridge would include the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, City of Highland, San Bernardino County Transportation Authority and the Lewis Group of Companies.
If anyone believes the Lewis Companies will pay up on an expense of this magnitude can think again.
Expect a revised Harmony Project EIR to be completed in record speed and be challenged once again. Furthermore, one can also expect the political waters in the city to grow murky, especially now that council members are elected by districts.