Frequently Asked Questions

The following are answers to questions we have received from the community during our public outreach. We welcome additional questions and feedback. Please email them to info@supportthemonastery.com.

DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (EIR)

 

Note: You can view and download The Meadows at Bailey Canyon’s Draft EIR and Specific Plan here.

 

What, if any, impacts does the Draft EIR identify?

 

The Draft EIR shows the project meets all rigorous State and City requirements for environmental quality.  According to the study, which was prepared by consultants hired by the City, in regard to traffic, water, and fire safety, The Meadows at Bailey Canyon is designed to be the most sustainable project in Sierra Madre history.

 

All potential significant impacts from the project, including air quality, cultural resource and noise have been fully mitigated to below a level of significance, as defined by California’s environmental laws.

How much traffic will the project generate?

 

Current zoning allows for institutional development such as a school or communal living facility. The Meadows would generate 70% less traffic than what can be built there today under current zoning.

 

Is water available for these new homes?

 

The project will achieve a net-zero impact on local water supplies to minimize burdens on existing City infrastructure and the impact on the environment. Working with the City, to the Meadows will accomplish this by purchasing water sufficient to meet the new homes’ needs for 50 years now, at a price lower than the cost of future water, and store it for future use. In addition, stormwater will be captured on-site so it can replenish the local aquifer, rather than being channeled to storm drains, as occurs in older neighborhoods.  In addition, new homes will be required to comply with statewide water efficiency rules and therefore will use about half the water homes built before 1990 use, through requirements for:

  • Water-conserving fixtures that function as well as older fixtures that use as little as 75 percent of the water used by older fixtures.

  • Drought-tolerant landscaping, strict limits on the use of turf and the use of drip and micro-spray irrigation instead of sprinklers, all of which dramatically cut outdoor water use.

  • Natural open space areas that capture stormwater and runoff and allow it to seep into the ground, so it recharges our aquifer.

  • Super-efficient appliances like dishwashers that hold the water from the final rinse cycle and use it for the next load’s first wash cycle.

How will the project address wildfire safety issues?

 

The Meadows will not impede the full and safe evacuation of the area in the event of a wildfire; in fact, all City standards for emergency access are met or exceeded. 

 

A Full Fire Protection plan (“FPP”) has been prepared and included in the EIR. The FPP outlines full compliance with all current fire codes including use of ignition resistant building materials, sprinklers in all new homes, ongoing brush management, fuel modification, and use of native fire-resistant landscaping. 

 

How can the public comment on the project?

 

The public comment period on the EIR has closed, but you still will be able to comment at the public hearings of the Planning Commission and City Council, which are anticipated to be held early in 2022.

 
 
 
 

GENERAL

Will the Monastery continue to operate?

 

Yes. The Retreat Center will continue its ministry works and retreats. The project is planned for land not currently used by the Retreat Center and is designed to minimize impacts to the Retreat Center as to not affect their day-to-day operations. 

Will there be one-story homes?

 

Yes. While designs continue to be finalized, there are plans to have both one-story and two-story homes throughout the project. We understand there is a strong market for single-story homes and The Meadows will help support that market demand.

 

How do the new home lot sizes and density compare to existing Sierra Madre neighborhoods?

 

Lot sizes and density for The Meadows are consistent with existing Sierra Madre neighborhoods. The lots will range between 8,000 to about 19,800 square feet in size.

Will the new homes have solar?

 

Yes. Each home will be equipped with solar.

 

How is the property zoned?

 

The property is currently zoned as “Institutional”, and we are requesting that the zoning be changed back to the prior Residential Single-Family use so we can build a smaller development. For approximately 80 years the property was zoned for Residential Single-Family use, but in 1997, the City created Institutional zoning and portions of the property were rezoned from Residential to Institutional. 

 

Why is Mater Dolorosa selling the property?

 

Since 2007, the Retreat Center’s Board of Directors has worked on selling this vacant property in order to raise funds for the Province, in a manner that will not impact the quiet, peaceful nature of Mater Dolorosa’s retreats. The need for funds at the Province has increased over these past many years. Funds are needed to support its ministries and to care for its senior priests and brothers.

 

Have you considered selling the property so it would remain as open space?

 

For five years through 2012, the Mater Dolorosa Board worked with the Provincial Office in Park Ridge, Illinois to evaluate a number of different options, including reaching out to “Angel Donors” to see if any were interested in purchasing The Meadows for conservation purposes. The Board was not successful in raising money from either individuals or foundations for the purpose of purchasing The Meadows. Later, the City met with the Board to discuss possible acquisition but determined that it was not feasible.

 

Has the City considered purchasing the property as open space?

 

The City has determined this is not a viable option, especially in light of new state legislation to address the housing crisis, the requirement from the Southern California Association of Governments that Sierra Madre identify sites where up to 204 additional housing units could be built, and state litigation against cities the Attorney General considers to be too “anti-housing.” The Province did engage previously in significant dialogue about this option with the City Manager.

 

Have institutional uses been considered for the property?

 

The site is currently zoned “Institutional.” However, because the institutional proposals previously received appear likely to have a greater negative impact on Mater Dolorosa’s immediate neighbors and on the serenity that retreatants who visit the site seek, a decision was made to pursue a single family home residential development.

What is the plan for the property?

 

On April 28, 2020, the City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Province that establishes how our plan will be processed. Details on the MOU are provided below, in the Assurances section of the FAQ.
 
In addition to the requirements of the MOU, we have committed to:

  • Blend with the existing neighborhoods near the property

  • Seek to reflect the village character of Sierra Madre

  • Incorporate energy-saving and water-saving design into the plan and homes

  • Respect nature

  • Meet our commitments to our neighbors, and

  • Protect the character and ongoing mission of the Retreat Center.

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This preliminary site plan was incorporated into the Memorandum of Understanding and was shown and discussed at Community Workshops on August 4 and 5, 2020 and again in March 2021.  This plan is discussed in more detail in the Draft Specific Plan that was released on August 2, 2021. The plan is available here.

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What community outreach has been conducted?

 

Representatives of Mater Dolorosa and members of the New Urban West, Inc. team have met with more than 300 local residents in more than a dozen meetings since August 2020, and remain committed to being engaged with our neighbors and residents of Sierra Madre. If you are interested in a presentation to your local organization or receiving more information, please email info@supportthemonastery.com.

 

Who is New Urban West, Inc. (NUWI)?

 

New Urban West is a Southern California-based developer with over six decades of experience. They have a design-centric approach combined with ongoing community engagement that results in homes that are meant for our community. Mater Dolorosa chose New Urban West because of their strong commitment to working with neighbors, the City and the Retreat Center. To learn more about NUWI, please click here.

ASSURANCES

 

What assurances does the Memorandum of Understanding provide to the public?

 

The Memorandum of Understand (MOU) between the City and the Passionists requires both parties to comply fully with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The developer is required to pay all the City’s costs for processing the plan, including preparation of the Draft EIR by a consultant of the City’s choosing, and the Passionists are required, upon plan approval, to dedicate the hillside acres above the Retreat Center to the City as open space. Additionally, the Passionists will dedicate over 3 acres within the development parcel as a publicly accessible park site, which must be built to the City’s specifications. A net-zero water impact requirement is also included.
 

What assurance is there that the developer will build the project as it is proposed?

 

The Specific Plan, which requires public review and City approval, spells out exactly how the site will be developed and what community design requirements the homebuilder must meet. The Development Agreement, basically a contract between the City and the applicant, will include financial and other requirements the applicant (New Urban West) will be obligated to meet.  In addition, the City will require many conditions of approval and mitigation measures. 

 

How can we be assured that the Retreat Center or the hillside parcel won’t be developed?

 

The Memorandum of Understanding, which is contractual in nature, stipulates that Mater Dolorosa will dedicate the hillside parcel to the City upon approval of The Meadows at Bailey Canyon. A permanent open space easement will be placed over the parcel.

 
 

CITY SERVICES

 

How will the plan provide for Sierra Madre’s infrastructure and City services?

 

Because The Meadows would represent less than one percent of the current number of homes in Sierra Madre, the new neighborhood will have little discernable impact on infrastructure or services. This was confirmed in the Draft EIR’s finding that The Meadows will have no significant impact on City infrastructure or services.

 

What fiscal benefits will the project bring and how did you compute them?

 

The project will result in one-time development fees, new ongoing property tax and utility tax revenues, and new sales for City businesses.

 

What about the new water demand created by the new homes?


The MOU with the City requires the proposed plan to have a “net positive” water impact. Working with the City, to the Meadows will accomplish this by purchasing water sufficient to meet the new homes’ needs for 50 years now, at a price lower than the cost of future water, and store it for future use. In addition, stormwater will be captured on-site so it can replenish the local aquifer, rather than being channeled to storm drains, as occurs in older neighborhoods.  In addition, new homes will be required to comply with statewide water efficiency rules and therefore will use about half the water homes built before 1990 use, through requirements for:
 

  • Water-conserving fixtures that function as well as older fixtures that use as little as 75 percent of the water used by older fixtures.

  • Drought-tolerant landscaping, strict limits on the use of turf and the use of drip and micro-spray irrigation instead of sprinklers, all of which dramatically cut outdoor water use.

  • Natural open space areas that capture storm water and runoff and allow it to seep into the ground, so it recharges our aquifer.

  • Super-efficient appliances like dishwashers that hold the water from the final rinse cycle and use it for the next load’s first wash cycle.

 

NEIGHBORHOOD DESIGN

 

How will the design of the neighborhood protect neighbors?

 

The Specific Plan for The Meadows will incorporate design features that are sensitive to neighbors’ concerns. These measures will include placement of the public park along the property’s southern edge, as well as buffers, landscaping and placing single-story homes in strategic locations.  Storm water regulations require that runoff be captured and held onsite so it can replenish the local aquifer. This is normally done in natural open space buffers that also serve to separate the new homes from neighboring homes.

 

How will the design of the neighborhood protect views?

 

The topography of the site, which rises approximately 100 feet from the property’s entry on Sunnyside to the edge of the Retreat Center will help protect views. The streets will only have homes on one side, with streets hidden from existing neighbors below on the far side of each “step.”  Landscaped slopes between each “step” will soften views of the new homes.

What kind of homes are planned?

 

The Meadows team has worked with four separate architects to create a unique diversity of high-quality designs that will blend into the eclectic nature of the existing homes in Sierra Madre, which are shown in more detail in the Specific Plan. Both one and two-story homes are being planned.  Design standards and a design review process are incorporated into the project’s Specific Plan, and as such home designs will be considered as part of the public approval process for the project.

 

How do the new home lot sizes and density compare to existing Sierra Madre neighborhoods?

 

Lot sizes and density for The Meadows are consistent with existing Sierra Madre neighborhoods. The lots will range between 8,000 to about 19,800 square feet in size. The size of the homes would range from 2,500 — 3,000 square feet.
 

How much will the homes cost?

 

Home prices will be set based on market conditions at the time they come on the market.

 

Will the new neighborhood be gated?

 

​No. To ensure access to the public park, there are no plans to gate the neighborhood.

 

Will the new homes respect the village character and look and feel of Sierra Madre?

 

More than 60 percent of Sierra Madre’s existing homes were built in the 1950s or earlier and are more than 60 years old. Homes built today cannot reasonably be expected to be exact reflections of homes of that era. However, given Sierra Madre’s reputation as a wonderful place to live, to the Meadows will work to capture as much of the look and feel of Sierra Madre as reasonably possible. To do that, they commissioned not one, but four, top-notch architectural firms that studied Sierra Madre’s existing homes and produced best designs for homes that will respect the village feel of Sierra Madre.

 

Will there be any public review of the homes’ design?

 

The Specific Plan includes specific directions covering the homes’ design, along with photographs of “appropriate” and “inappropriate” homes for the site, and many other details. The City’s Design Review for The Meadows will include a public hearing before the Sierra Madre Planning Commission at which time home elevations, floorplans, color palettes, building materials, and the community and public park landscape plans will be reviewed.

PARKS AND OPEN SPACE

 

Where will the park be and what is included in its design?

 
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Park View 1.jpg

The public park will be on the south edge of the property, creating a buffer between the new homes and our neighbors to the south, and tying directly to the adjacent Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park. To limit light and noise, it will be designed as a passive park, with only a small tot lot featuring naturally themed play areas. 

 

Who will pay for the park and its maintenance?

 

The park would be built to City specifications at New Urban West’s expense, and funds for maintaining it would be paid to the City by the future homeowners in the new development through an assessment on their property taxes.

 

What will be done to protect wildlife?
 

Even after development on the 20-acre site, there will be a great deal of natural open space at Mater Dolorosa, including the large Hillside Parcel, the significant open space within the 23-acre Retreat Center Parcel, and open space within the new home community and its public park. According to the Draft EIR, The Meadows will have no significant impact on natural or biological resources.
 

CONSTRUCTION

 

When would construction begin?

 

The Meadows at Bailey Canyon must go through the many steps before construction would begin. Only after City Council approval and the final engineering process can permits be issued and construction begin. The exact timing will become clearer as we move through the regulatory and public review processes.

 

What will be done to protect neighbors during construction?
 

The Draft EIR studied construction impacts and spells out requirements that construction crews must meet, including strict start and stop times, specified access routes, prohibitions on off-street parking, restrictions on noise, music and lights, and dust control measures.