A group of residents is opposed to a plan that would see the construction of a 360,022 square foot, multi-level furniture warehouse and distribution center that, if approved by Riverside County supervisors, would be built adjacent to the Silverhawk community on Murrieta Hot Springs Road in Murrieta.
Resident Stephanie Bauerlein has sent letters of protest to the county’s planning agencies and has begun an online petition with more than 125 nearby resident signatures opposing the project.
“My reasoning is that such an enormous project in an already congested area is not the right fit for our community,” Bauerlein said. “The Tucalota Creek culvert runs under Murrieta Hot Springs Road at Sky Canyon, making this stretch of road especially narrow. Major development is occurring both to the east and west of the project in Temecula and Murrieta, and the project is located on a main route to the 215 freeway. There are no alternate routes noted. Instead, project plans indicate that all delivery trucks and passenger vehicles that enter and exit the facility will do so from Murrieta Hot Springs Road. This will create a traffic burden to an already congested area.”
Bauerlein said the project required an addendum to an existing Environmental Impact Report and she only heard about a meeting tackling the subject three days before.
“I became aware of the project July 18 or 19 when I received notice for a public hearing, scheduled for July 22,” she said. “The notice stated that an addendum to the Environmental Impact Report was being proposed to allow for a ‘360,022-square-foot industrial building for furniture warehouse and distribution’ to be built – the Mor project. The referenced EIR is nearly 20 years old.
“After talking with neighbors and realizing that many had not received timely notice and others had not received any notice at all, we decided to reach out to the planning department and to 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington to express opposition to the project.”
In the letter sent July 21, which she shared with Valley News, she pointed out that the 20-year-old Environmental Impact Report, in her view, seemed to be the foundation of many decisions that are being made in the area.
Considering the project’s proximity to nearby Tucalota Creek and home development in the area since the study was conducted, she proposed to Washington that a new study be conducted.
The area has also undergone a zoning change in 2018 to allow for the construction of nearby Silverhawk Self Storage project.
“At that time, zoning was changed for the entire area, as well, allowing for the Mor project to be considered,” Bauerlein said. “The Specific Plan for the area (SP 213) did not include a huge warehouse for this location. Instead, a town center was indicated, where people could walk to shops and businesses. The Mor warehouse project includes approximately 243 parking spaces and truck docks and will have a vastly different impact from what was envisioned in the original plan.”
So far, Bauerlein’s group has contacted Washington and his assistants as well as project planners, David Alvarez and Russell Brady, and county transportation and planning department director, Juan C. Perez.
“I imagine the planning department has high caseloads and stringent deadlines, which could make consistent communication difficult,” Bauerlein said. “However, the impact of the Mor warehouse project could have a significant impact on our lives, our homes and our community. Efforts should have been made to ensure that the information provided was consistent, accurate and timely for the residents affected by this project.
“Despite well-intended responses, some information provided was incorrect and conflicting. Further, the planning department’s website returned numerous broken links and 404 error messages, making document access frustrating and ineffective,” Bauerlein said.
In addition, Bauerlein said, the hearings were held in downtown Riverside, 40 miles from Silverhawk, which made it difficult for residents to participate in the process, considering what she said was a short window of notification.
Bauerlein said, according to Washington’s assistant, the project is now a “done deal.” The group had until Monday to file an appeal and pay an $800 fee. She was unclear on whether she would press on or focus on trying to stay abreast and have input on further development in the area.
“I would like to see the county planning department commit to an extended notification plan – outside of any general notification system – that would inform concerned neighbors in our group early and often of all plans, project considerations or changes of any kind, zoning or otherwise, that are being discussed or considered for all plots in planning area 9,” Bauerlein said. “This area includes the Tucalota Creek, and it would be a positive step to see at least part of the area include some open space to offset the huge warehouse that has been approved. Incorporating open space to offset the excess traffic and congestion would be a meaningful first step and a good faith effort.
“I am hopeful that projects being considered will aim to achieve the spirit of the original plan, and include family-friendly contributions instead of more traffic,” Bauerlein said.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.