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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Carmel Valley development ignores project conditions

April 2011
Carmel ValleyThe Planning Commission has deleted water-conserving conditions for this project in Carmel Rancho.
Photo: Rita Dalessio

Cottages of Carmel, the almost-completed 78-bed assisted living facility in the Carmel Rancho part of unincorporated Carmel, is a project that could greatly benefit the community. However, few are pleased with the actions of the applicant and the County.

In 2004, the Board of Supervisors, recognizing the scarcity of water, approved the project with many conditions. Of primary importance were landscaping and water limits. The promised landscape screening to maintain the rural character of Carmel Valley was critical as were the water solutions. The project was allotted a maximum of 4.8 acre feet of water per year.

The condition of a state-of-the-art graywater system and cistern, which allowed for the landscape screening, made the project viable within the tight water limit. One letter from the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District stating the graywater system wasn’t needed (later confirmed to be in error) created a loophole that enabled the developer to ignore project conditions and not plumb for the graywater system.

This year the Planning Commission (5-3) rewarded the developer’s actions by overriding some of the Board of Supervisors’ conditions, deleting the requirement for the graywater system and cistern, and accepting a severely scaled-back landscaping plan. The Chapter opposes these violations of the original agreement.

Carmel Valley Association has appealed to the Board of Supervisors asserting that the applicant must abide by the conditions, that the Supervisors are the only body with the authority to change the conditions, and that if the applicant is allowed to proceed without the water backup, the project should have only 56 beds until the applicant proves the project can operate within the water constraints.

The community is also concerned that the construction work is not adhering to the County ruling that construction on Saturdays occur only between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

The facility is not yet licensed. Deposits for $5000 per bed are being collected. Clients should know that without the license, their money is being handed over on trust alone.

Christine Williams contributed to this article.

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