Controversial East County development gets green light

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SANTEE, Calif. — A controversial development in East County has gotten the green light from city officials, but the debate about the project is far from over.

The Fanita Ranch master-planned community, slated for a plot of undeveloped land in Santee, was approved after nearly six hours of deliberation by a 4-1 vote, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The project is led by Home Fed Fanita Ranch and would cover nearly 2,700 acres north of the 52 and west of the Eucalyptus Hills area. It’s expected include 3,000 homes plus parks and other public amenities, plus orchards, a community farm and vineyards.

But the project has proved controversial for locals, with many opponents citing increased traffic through the area as a primary concern.

“Honestly, I think traffic is going to be the biggest concern 90% of residents are going to have,” Santee realtor and resident Kyle Whissel told FOX 5. “The other 10% is probably environmental concerns, because you’re going back into open space. (A) lot of people who take issue with that.”

The Home Fed corporation has plans for freeway improvements and expanded roads in the area, which they say will ease traffic congestion and provide ample room in emergency situations. They say the biggest portion of the development — more than 2,000 acres — will remain open space with trails.

Whissel sees the positives, too: “You got trails, parks, schools, different types of living — higher-end, active-adult — cool things.”

While the project gained approval from city council, the debate — and potential legal battles — are still waging on.

Preserve Wild Santee spokesman Van Collinsworth told the Union-Tribune that the group plans to fight the council’s action and was seeking legal counsel about possible litigation related to fire, water and endangered species impacted by the development.

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