Harmony Grove Village
HELIX Environmental Planning (HELIX) managed the preparation of this fast-track Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a mixed-use development project in the unincorporated Harmony Grove area of the County of San Diego. HELIX also prepared the agricultural, biological, manure management and fly/vector control, and visual technical reports, as well as the resource protection study, for the project; which includes 742 residential units (including some work-live units), recreational spaces, public and private equestrian facilities, and a water reclamation facility on 468 acres. The project required three Major Use Permits, a Specific Plan approval, a rezone, and amendments to the County Resource Protection Ordinance (RPO) and adopted General Plan. Technical issues of the greatest sensitivity included cultural resources (including adaptive re-use of one historic structure); County-protected wetlands; loss of agricultural resources; narrow endemic plant species; the crossing of Escondido Creek with a project-required road/bridge; visual effects of proposed retaining and sound walls; visual effects of change from an agricultural character; and working with both County and City of Escondido environmental significance thresholds.
Subsequent to certification of the EIR and approval of the project, HELIX secured wetland permits; assisted the client regarding identification, agency acceptance, and purchase of an off-site mitigation parcel; prepared conceptual plans and construction plans and specifications for 18.25 acres of wetland habitat creation and enhancement; prepared a final habitat management plan for the on- and off-site mitigation areas; conducted pre-installation data collection for planned wetland creation and enhancement areas according to the California Rapid Assessment Method (including necessary sensitive species surveys). Installation is completed, with year-one maintenance of the installed irrigation, native plants and seed completed in 2015 and ongoing.
The Statewide Association of Environmental Professionals recognized the Resource Management Plan (RMP) prepared for this project as the 2007 Outstanding Environmental Resource Document: Jurisdiction Over 50,000 Population. The RMP addressed the preservation, enhancement, and management of sensitive resources as exempt from the County’s Resource Protection Ordinance. In the words of the AEP jury: “The RMP effectively demonstrates how sound comprehensive resource planning, incorporating very good restoration and management programs can result in an environmentally superior Project to one implemented strictly using the RPO.”