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North River Farms Goes Back To The Drawing Board

A view of the land where Integral Communities proposes to build about 650 hom...

Photo by Alison St John

Above: A view of the land where Integral Communities proposes to build about 650 homes off North River Road in Oceanside's Morro Hills, May 23, 2019.

A proposal to build an agri-community with hundreds of new homes in Oceanside’s semi-rural farmland is back on the drawing board after the city council put off voting on it last week.

North River Farms would add 650 homes on 177 acres in Morro Hills, an area of rolling hills and fields of tomatoes and cut flowers in east Oceanside. The developer, Integral Communities, would preserve over 70 acres of agricultural land and incorporate small farms and sustainable technology like solar and grey water.

An initiative that would have required voter approval to change the zoning in Morro Hills failed to pass last year.

Integral project manager, Ninia Hammond, said the company wants to honor the region’s agricultural traditions, and help promote the agri-tourism vision the city has for the region.

Photo by Alison St John

A sign on the edge of the land in Oceanside where the North River Farms development is proposed, May 23, 2019.

She said Integral has been working on the plans for the last five years and has spent millions of dollars to bring it to the council for approval.

However, Oceanside’s Planning Commission rejected the plan twice earlier this year, and commission chair Kyle Krahel said it would be better to put the housing in an area that is already urbanized.

“We face a housing crisis and we need to make sure that we can allow families to live here in Oceanside,” Krahel said, “but we also need to be facing the climate crisis that we have coming. That means we have to grow smart.”

Krahel said the city has enough land in its current general plan to meet its housing needs with infill development, rather than building on farmland, which lacks infrastructure.

“We would love to have them come back with a project in the right place that would have housing just like this wonderful project that they’re proposing," Krahel said. "We don’t need to take over agricultural land.”

Krahel said Oceanside should complete a General Plan Update before approving a project like North River Farms.

Hammond said updating the General Plan could take years. She said Integral hopes to bring a modified version of the plan back to the city later this year with modifications but in the same location.

By Reporter Alison St. John

A proposal to build an agri-community with hundreds of new homes in Oceanside’s semi-rural farmland is back on the drawing board after the city council put off voting on it last week.

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