Developer hopes to restore habitat


A local developer is hoping to make amends for grading violations by restoring a Carmel Valley wetlands habitat.

The city of San Diego found that developer Chris Barczewski made three grading violations on his Rancho Del Sol lots, one of which inadvertently created a small pond and wetland.

As he sought approval for his plans, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board took the time to insert their comments that the restoration is consistent with proposed trail that runs along the creek.

While consultant Paul Metcalf said the restoration had nothing to do with the trail, board member Anne Harvey said it was important that the trail stay in any conversation about the property. The trail is part of a Pacific Highlands Ranch connection that Harvey said has been gated off for 15 years.

“I want to keep it in the city’s consciousness,” Harvey said. “We’ve lost trails too often because we didn’t.”

The gated Rancho Del Sol community is off Carmel Valley Road, just before Evergreen Nursery, south of Highway 56.

An Army Corps of Engineers order requires that the pond created during grading be drained and restored to its previous state.

But Metcalf, also a member of the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board, said that once that happens there will be impacts to the manmade wetland, primarily species living there that would lose their homes.

To make up for those impacts, Barczewski is offering to restore a wetland along McGonigle Creek, an area that is greatly in need of repair, according to Metcalf.

He said the creek is full of trash and has become overrun by non-native plants.

“It doesn’t function as well as it could,” Metcalf said, which is why they hope to clean it up, widen the creek bed and put in some native plantings.

Metcalf said the plan is that the work is done concurrently, that the wetland is restored as they drain the pond.