Nipomo area residents learned more details and provided some opinions to developers proposing to build 1,270 homes, along with some commercial buildings, parks and trails, near Willow Road and Highway 101 in a virtual workshop Wednesday evening.
The biggest concerns raised by members of the public seemed to center around the traffic it could generate on adjacent streets, its increase in water use, impacts on the sewer system, the loss of open space and its contribution to increasing urbanization of the rural community.
Nick Tompkins, managing member of Dana Reserve LLC, which is proposing the project, said the workshop was intended to generate public interest and ideas, noting the development described in the draft specific plan is the 28th iteration the company considered in the last two years.
“The more people think about it, the more ideas that will come out of it and the better our project will become,” Tompkins said in the online workshop that drew more than 90 participants.
Of those, about 82% owned a home in Nipomo, 5% worked there and 13% had no connection to the town but were curious about the proposed project, according to the real-time poll conducted via slido.com.
About 42% of the respondents said they live within 5 miles and 30% live within half a mile of the project site consisting of open grassland and oak woodland west of Highway 1, south of Willow Road, north of Sandydale Drive and east of Hetrick Avenue.
Tompkins said as part of the project, Dana Reserve will protect the 388-acre Dana Ridge property near Clamshell Mountain as open space and as a mitigation site for coast live oaks lost to the development.
But he noted up to 1,500 oaks will be planted in the project’s parks and as street trees, and its main oak woodland will be preserved as open space.
Jennifer Guetschow, San Luis Obispo County Planning & Building Department senior planner and project manager, pointed out the county is in the very early stages of the review process.
But she said the currently proposed development would consist of 12 neighborhoods, with houses appealing to new homebuyers, townhomes for sale and apartments for rent.
Tompkins said neighborhoods would consist of affordable and workforce housing, with homes in the $650,000 range in the western portion and priced higher toward the east, and described the rental apartments as “class A.”
The project also would include a flexible commercial area that could house a market and health clubs, and a pedestrian-oriented village with retail shops and restaurants, Guetschow said.
Tompkins said the market would be smaller than the Nipomo Vons supermarket but larger than a convenience store and mentioned Grocery Outlet as a potential tenant.
A neighborhood barn would serve as a gathering place and venue for concerts and school events, an education center is planned and a hotel could be part of the project.
Tompkins said the company is donating property to Cuesta College for a satellite campus, where an estimated 35,000 square feet of buildings will serve young students as well as older workers looking for a new skill and retirees with particular interests.
He also said the project would have one and possibly two day care centers, a transit stop in the village, a public park-and-ride lot along the eastern entry road and an equestrian staging area for trail riders with parking for about eight trucks with trailers.
In the real-time poll about potential village businesses, restaurants and coffee houses were favored by 91%, a grocery store by 78%, and brew and wine bars by 60%. About 57% supported the education use, 25% did not and 17% wanted more information.
Asked to rank the top three amenities for the 10-acre public park, trails came in first at about 73%, followed by picnic areas at 67%, playgrounds at 58%, open turf at 49%, a dog park at 47% and pickleball courts at 33%.
Day care use was supported by 48% and opposed by 24%, with 20% indifferent. As for a proposal to close a portion of Hetrick Avenue, 40% said no, 20% said yes and 15% had no preference.