06:32 AM PST on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County supervisors put off until January a decision on the 11,150-home Villages of Lakeview sought for a scenic valley between Perris and San Jacinto.

The project, next to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, would be one of the largest in the county.

The delay was sought by Supervisor Marion Ashley, who said the extra time will give county staff a chance to answer questions raised by about 15 people who spoke Tuesday during a public hearing in Riverside.

Most who addressed the supervisors opposed the development, saying it would destroy the rural atmosphere of Lakeview by bringing more than 30,000 people to what is now mostly farmland. The plan is for seven villages with a mix of apartments, condominiums and single-family homes, plus a shopping center along Ramona Expressway.

Others said the 2,786-acre project, sought by the Upland-based Lewis Group of Companies, would put homes too close to the 10,000-acre state wildlife preserve, where hunting is allowed.

“Nice project. Wrong place,” said Clinton Stoutenburgh, who lives in the nearby community of Juniper Flats.

Nuevo resident Michael Foley said the developers worked hard to address community concerns in the design of the project, including ample open space, trails, a community center, library and other amenities.

The area would be getting a quality project, Foley said.

Ashley, who represents the Lakeview area, said he wants the staff to address next month how the wildlife area would be protected through a buffer zone, rules that would work to keep cats and dogs away from wildlife and several other issues.

Supervisor Bob Buster, however, questioned the need to approve more than 11,000 homes when many homes are now in foreclosure and thousands of others have been approved but not built.

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