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'Big-time developers' -- are they really behind drive to make C.V. a town?

By CHRIS COUNTS

Published: October 9, 2009

IF YOU believe the campaign ads, the Town of Carmel Valley will eventually be a hotbed of development if voters approve incorporation Nov. 3.
As evidence, campaign ads claims “big-time developers” are the driving force behind the proposed Town of Carmel and stand to make a lot of money if the town is created.

The ads, by the anti-incorporation group Save and Protect Carmel Valley, name Tom Gray, May Waldroup, Mike McMillan and Dave Potter as part of a group of self-interested developers who have contributed “over $200,000” to get the city approved.

“Somebody is going to make a lot of greenbacks from the new city, all at the expense of taxpayers,” the ad claims, citing state requirements that cities provide affordable housing and the pressure most cities are under to raise tax revenue — something that’s easy to do if a lot of construction is going on.

So are Gray, Waldroup, McMillan and Potter developers?

McMillan, an outspoken proponent of incorporation, is a businessman. He’s the CEO of Doctors on Duty, a local chain of medical clinics, his wife, Vicki, said.

“He has never developed anything but film,” she insisted.

Gray led the creation of the Santa Lucia Preserve, a project that subdivided the 20,000-acre Rancho San Carlos into 300 buildable lots, while setting aside 18,000 acres as open space. It also includes a golf course and clubhouse.

But Gray told The Pine Cone he neither supports nor opposes incorporation.

In 2000, a nonprofit group called the Carmel Valley Forum was formed to determine the fiscal viability of creating a town. Gray donated $10,000 to pay consultants for a study. “My only interest was to find out if incorporation was feasible,” Gray told The Pine Cone this week. “I’m not taking a position on it.”

Opponents have charged the Santa Lucia Preserve, which lies just outside the boundaries of the proposed town, will eventually be annexed because the new town won’t have enough revenues to cover its expenses, particularly after the recent loss of Quail Lodge. In response, Gray said he has no say in how the upscale community is run.

“The Preserve is managed by a community services district,” Gray explained. “I have no control over what they decide to do.”

So in Gray’s mind, he has neither the incentive or the authority to bring the Santa Lucia Preserve under the jurisdiction of the new town.

Like Gray, Waldroup certainly qualifies as a developer. With her husband, John, she created the Barnyard Shopping Center in 1972.

But Potter, despite his history as a general contractor, has long been a voice against development in Carmel Valley. Last week, he urged the Carmel Unified School District Board to endorse incorporation because “The board of supervisors have never said ‘no’ to a project in Carmel Valley.”

“Potter has voted against every major development proposed in the valley for 12 years,” Vicki McMillan added. “Look at his record.”

Debate set

The Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce will host a debate on incorporation, Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Carmel Valley Community Park.

The park is located at 35 Ford Road. The debate will happen outside, so participants are encouraged to dress warmly. For more information, call (831) 659-4000.