An update to the Village of Big Bear Lake is underway, and community input on the long-term project will be welcomed during public workshops in May. In attending to Improvement Agency business during Monday’s City Council meeting, $129,000 in Improvement Agency funds were approved for contract services to prepare phase two of the Village Specific Plan Update. As explained by the City’s Redevelopment Director Lyle Haynes, who has overseen the project, complete with community input in 2009, “The Village Specific Plan Update will develop land use and design alternatives for the future vision of the Village. The idea is to come up with various development alternatives; then, the community and the decision-makers can choose which alternatives will go through the environmental review process. It’s kind of a combination of things. On the private side, we’ll look at updating the development standards, such as height requirements and setbacks, as well as signage, and allowing for more outdoor dining and things that will make the Village more pedestrian-friendly. On the public side, we’ll look at new amenities and public improvements, including more restrooms and the placement of parking, as well as improving pedestrian linkages to the lakefront. We’d also like to add a central gathering spot or park with potential for an outdoor amphitheater.” Haynes anticipates that this will, all told, be a fairly long process, which would include community meetings and workshops in May, followed by public hearings during IA meetings over the summer and, he adds, “We hope to have a plan that will go through the environmental review process by September.” In order to be eligible for the funding to implement these kinds of projects, Improvement Agency funds (designated from property taxes) are also mandated to include projects such as those for affordable housing. As Haynes explains, “Twenty percent of Improvement Agency funds must be used to produce affordable housing in order for the other 80% of these local property tax funds to be directed toward improvements such as public infrastructure and amenities, as well as facilities, and general economic development.” To that end, the City Council’s Improvement Agency, chaired by Mayor Pro Tem Bill Jahn, also moved forward with one of two previously selected affordable housing projects; at the February 22 meeting, an exclusive negotiation contract with National CORE, Inc. was approved, for potential development of 60 affordable housing units on three parcels on Jeffries Road, just west of Big Bear Middle School.
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