By Miriam Raftery
October 17, 2013 (Santee) – Santee’s City Council has voted to allow annexation of the controversial Castlerock Development project, meaning the land will be transferred from San Diego to Santee. Pardee Homes plans to build 283 single family homes, 147 multi-family dwellings and a public park at the project.
The Council has fought to oppose Castlerock on the boundary of Santee and San Diego, but the City of San Diego approved it. Unable to block the project, Santee’s Council decided to allow annexation so that developer fees and property taxes from the new homes will be paid to Santee. In turn, Santee will provide services as fire protection.
An open space area near Mission Trails Regional Park will remain within the City of San Diego.
Opponents have criticized the project for environmental impacts, traffic and flood control issues.
Many at the Council meeting voiced frustration, objecting to San Diego forcing the project onto Santee against the wishes of many residents and officials.
Mayor Randy Voepel asked if anyone could think of anything the city could do to stop the project, short of a costly lawsuit with uncertain results. In the end, Council voted 3 to 2 for annexation. Padre Dam water district must also approve annexation this week.
The Mayor has often been on opposite sides with environmentalists in the past, notably Preserve Wild Santee, a group led by Van Collinsworth.
But ironically, at the Castlerock hearing, Mayor Voepel noted the environmental group’s successful track record of lawsuits halting projects in the past. In his final words on Castlerock to a standing room only crowd, the Mayor advised, "I recommend Pardee not underestimate Collinsworth and his group.” He concluded,"This isn't over yet."