The Lake Elsinore City Council demonstrated Tuesday night that when it comes to development, it stands in support of property owner rights.
In a unanimous vote, City Council decided in favor of a Tuscany Hills homeowner who has been trying to subdivide his 3.17-acre property, despite neighbors’ objections.
This past spring, the Planning Commission turned down Doug Pinnow’s request to subdivide his Tuscany Hills parcel into three, 1-acre lots. In rejecting his request, the commission pointed to compatibility issues with existing “estate” lots in the Tuscany Hills community. Commissioners also expressed concerns over how a shared driveway would be utilized and they said the proposed parcel map was flawed.
Michael O’Neal was the only commissioner to support Pinnow’s subdivision.
Tuscany Hills features 21 large parcels and single-story ranch-style homes situated on acreage. The community falls under the Tuscany Hills Specific Plan.
The subdivision issue was forwarded to City Council for final consideration, with a recommendation by city staff that council follow the commission's lead and turn down the project.
But it was not to be.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, six people turned out in support of Pinnow’s subdivision and six spoke out against.
Those against the proposal argued it would degrade the neighborhood’s estate feel and open the door to further Tuscany Hills subdivision.
Diane Smith lives two lots away from Pinnow’s property. In arguing her case against the subdivision, she said Lake Elsinore doesn’t have enough high-end estate properties for wealthier buyers who might want to live in the city.
“We’re the only ones,” she said of the Tuscany Hills neighborhood.
But Tuscany Hills resident Don Porter, who turned out to support Pinnow, said there is nothing in the Specific Plan to prevent his neighbor from subdividing.
City Council and City Attorney Barbara Leibold agreed. City Manager Bob Brady also noted there is nothing in the Tuscany Hills Specific Plan defining what an estate lot is.
“One acre, in my mind, is still an estate lot,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bob Magee, but he conceded Pinnow has the higher legal ground.
Councilwoman Melissa Melendez concurred.
“I believe what he (Pinnow) wants to do is legal,” she said.
Councilman Peter Weber stood firm.
“I believe in the rights of the property owner,” he said.
Mayor Brian Tisdale sympathized with the argument that more estates are needed in Lake Elsinore, but he pointed out that there isn’t a clear definition for what an estate is. Both he and Councilman Daryl Hickman urged concerned Tuscany Hills property owners to consider bringing forward an amendment to the Specific Plan.