What Can We Learn From The Failed Heartland Warehouse Project?

I've reviewed the General Plan Amendment, Item 6.b, on this week's city council meeting agenda. This amendment concerns the parcel map and development agreement for the already approved 2.89 million square foot Hidden Canyon Industrial Park warehouse project. If passed it will amend a street designation; revise a tentative parcel map for solely finance and conveyance purposes; and establish parameters on how project improvements will be implemented between the City and the applicant. I was at the Planning Commission meeting when this amendment was discussed and as far as I can tell there isn't much new here. We were told at the Planning Commission meeting this warehouse has already been approved and this amendment only makes changes to the existing contract. 

I think we should take the lessons we learned from the Heartland warehouse project and move forward cautiously. We learned from the applicant in that project, Lehman Brothers, that they regretted not meeting with the public to address concerns and answer questions. We learned from the City Council that they believed the project was presented to them prematurely. We also learned from the council members that they will listen to a concerned vocal community. 

Even though the Hidden Canyon project is approved and a contract has been signed, I think everyone would benefit by a more cooperative environment between the community, the developer, and the Council. This is why at tomorrow night's City Council meeting I plan to ask the Council to work with Timoteo Land Development, the developer, to schedule a town hall type community forum to help us better understand how this amendment will affect the traffic and neighborhood surrounding the project. I know there is nothing requiring TLD to agree and nothing stopping the City Council from moving forward but it would provide TLD an opportunity to present their vision for Beaumont and it would promote a positive cooperative relationship between TLD, the City Council and the community. I am sure TLD would value the support of their new neighbors.

If my idea is accepted by the Council and supported by TLD, I am hoping a town hall format will provide a more relaxed forum where TLD representatives and Beaumont citizens aren't restricted by speaking time limits or governed by the City Council meeting rules and restrictions. Even though the community embraced the actions of our City Council to stop the Heartland project, many of us in attendance that night, including the representatives from Lehman Brothers, were disappointed there wasn't more communication between the community and the developer.

I hope there will be others to speak up in support of my request. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 pm at City Hall but you need to be there a little early to fill out a form if you are interested in addressing the council. 

Here is a link to the agenda item: