A second retail center in the Summerwind Ranch development moved forward Monday night when the Calimesa Planning Commission approved several conditional use permits to update the Summerwind Commons project.

Originally approved in 2005 as part of the Summerwind Ranch Specific Plan, Summerwind Commons sits on 11.4 acres and was designed to complement the 17-acre Marketplace at Calimesa, across the way on Cherry Valley Boulevard.

“You will see … in the presentation and in the resolution that is there before you tonight that the project is proposed to be conditioned to be compliant with the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP) and a number of other conditions of approval,” said Planning Manager Kelly Lucia, who presented the item at the special planning commission meeting on July 27.

Besides the MMRP, commissioners were also asked to approve the master sign program, the site design, layout, architecture, landscaping and a tentative tract map. All five commissioners – Chair Mike Barron, Vice Chair Michael Brittingham, Commissioner Eric Cundieff, Commissioner Charles Hurt and Commissioner John Keith – attended the meeting via teleconference and unanimously approved the agenda item.

The design, layout, architecture and landscaping of Summerwind Commons is in keeping with the aesthetic of the Summerwind Ranch development. The architectural design is “California Ranch” with hip and gable roofs, broad overhangs and a natural color scheme, while the landscaping calls for low to moderate-watering plants that will use recycled water from the Yucaipa Valley Water District.

A variance to increase the number and size of signage at Summerwind Commons was part of the approvals. Instead of one freeway pylon that is no taller than 20 feet and 100 square feet in size, one freeway pylon of 40 feet tall and 360 square feet in size was granted. The signs for the complex were also increased from two at a maximum 6 feet tall to six at a maximum of 20 feet.

Conditional use permits were granted for drive-through restaurants, and an ABC license and underground storage tanks at the fuel station/convenience store.

“We designed the project as sort of as a spillover from the Stater Bros. center,” said applicant Rich Rowland, with Plan B Advisors, referring to the Marketplace at Calimesa.

Plan B Advisors and Calimesa Holdings 2, LLC, the other applicant, worked with Lewis Retail Centers, the developer of the Marketplace, Rowland said.

Because of that collaboration, Rowland said, “We kind of had a good handle on the market and what tenants were in the market and also in the community. It was an opportunity to service those residents with some interesting and different kind of tenants than exist in the Stater Bros. center.”

Tenants slated for Summerwind Commons include a fitness center, quick-serve and drive-through restaurants, a fuel station with a convenience store, a medical office, a dental or eyecare office and a daycare or veterinarian facility.

The biggest area of concern for the commissioners is a traffic signal that is needed at the main entrance of Summerwind Commons. The signal will also be the main entrance to a new kindergarten through eighth-grade school in the Beaumont Unified School District that is under construction.

“I also have concern about the light to the entrance going into the school,” said Vice Chair Brittingham, after Commissioners Cundieff and Hurt had raised questions on the signal.

The point of concern is Summerwind Commons and the Beaumont Unified School District both need the signal to help with traffic flow and because of that they would both share in the cost. However, the school district has not yet agreed to pay its fair share obligation.

“The traffic signal is warranted as far as the traffic study was identified as needed,” City Engineer Mike Thornton said. “I don’t think there is any objection from the applicant to get it installed. The question is will the school district pay its fair share?”

“The school district will use the signal as its main entrance. Students will cross, using the signal to the development across the street,” Thornton said, continuing. “The biggest concern that the city had at the crossing was the safety of those kids. They are going to cross whether there is a safe crossing or not. The city concurred with the traffic study that a signal was needed.”

Because Summerwind Commons is located in a different city than the school district, it does not have any influence there. However, a representative for Summerwind Commons reported there have been discussions with the district for several weeks. Official approval for the signal will need to be voted on by the district’s board of education.

“We will just continue to work with the district. We do have a good working relationship with their staff and hope that we can find a final resolution on this issue,” Lucia said, assuring the commissioners.

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