Nature lovers organized as the San Marcos Foothills Coalition negotiated an agreement with developer Jeff Bermant to preserve open space in the hills west of Highway 154. Instead of the six mansions for which Bermant has county-approved development plans, the new plan would site 44 less expensive–though still luxury–homes on the 377-acre parcel. And instead of designating 200 acres of non-contiguous open space–some of it within private yards–as accessible to the public, the new plan sets aside 300 contiguous acres on the northern end of the parcel for public use. In praise of the new plan, wildlife biologist Mark Holmgren characterized the rocky grasslands as “our only good example of an intact local prairie.” But some neighbors voiced opposition, arguing that the greater number of homes will create more traffic. If the county does not approve the coalition’s plan, Bermant will proceed with his original plan.

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