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County Extends Building Moratorium Near Santa Rosa Plateau

The moratorium is to protect scenic hillsides that border Murrieta on the Santa Rosa Plateau.

County Extends Building Moratorium Near Santa Rosa Plateau

Despite the opposition of property owners, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors today extended a moratorium on building in areas of the Santa Rosa Plateau west of Murrieta and Temecula until regulations are in place to prevent over-development of the space.

Last November, the board approved an emergency ordinance that prohibited residential subdivisions, grading or land modifications of any significance throughout the northern and southern Santa Rosa Plateau escarpments.   

Supervisors Bob Buster and Jeff Stone, whose districts intersect along the ridgeline, pushed for a moratorium, citing concerns that planned developments could hasten soil erosion, damage drainage patterns and ruin the area's aesthetics.   

Land-use restrictions were imposed on tracts near La Cresta located at Camino Gatillo and Via Horca, just west of Temecula; Via Vista Grande and Claremont Street, west of Murrieta; Corte Hanna and Paseo Montana, west of Murrieta; and Calle de Lobo and Farrelly Circle, west of Murrieta.   

While the temporary ordinance has been in effect, over the last 11 months, the county's planning department was supposed to draft building and zoning regulations for the escarpments, but the process has been delayed for reasons not fully explained.

"I don't want the government or anyone else telling me what I can and cannot do with my property,'' said resident Elodel Buck. "This is just not right. Why do you keep squeezing us?''   

Riverside County Property Owners President Bruce Colbert called the board's moratorium "extreme," arguing that a brief set of design and architectural guidelines could serve the same purpose with less intrusion.   

Developer Bernard Truax said the board's "taking of property rights'' had made his parcels in the area "unsellable."   

Stone acknowledged that the ordinance was overdue and received full board support in directing the planning department to draft a set of proposed building standards by the first week of January.

"We've (dragged) our feet on this,'' said Supervisor John Tavaglione. "We owe it to the residents to move this along in an expeditious manner.''

The supervisors voted 4-0 to extend the moratorium another 12 months.

However, they can rescind that order at any time.

--City News Service

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