The Desert Hot Springs Planning Commissions approved the development permit for a three-million square-foot, multi-story e-commerce warehouse.
Seefried Industrial Properties Inc, an industrial real estate company, submitted the proposal. The proposed project is anticipated to be occupied by a single tenant, according to documents submitted by Seefried Inc. City documents did not show the potential tenant.
The Planning Commission voted 3-2 on the proposal, with Commissioners Requita Grant and Ted Mayrhofen voting no.
The planning commission has the final say on the development unless it's appealed. The city council already voted on the zoning, according to Russell Betts, but not on the specific project. Betts added that any citizen can appeal the planning commission's decision. It's not known if anyone will or on what grounds they would cite.
Watch The Full Meeting Below:
The building would take up more than 94 acres on the east side of Calle de Los Romos between 19th Avenue and 20th Avenue, north of Interstate 10.
When complete, it will be one of the largest distributions centers in the United States. It is also set to create approximately 1,800 full-time jobs, according to city documents.
More than a dozen residents spoke at Tuesday's planning commission meeting, most of which disagreed with the warehouse being built in the city for a variety of reasons, including impacts to the environment, traffic, and health.
Some of the speakers mentioned that they've only heard of the project within the past 24 hours.
"I only heard about this project, like a lot of people, I only heard about it this morning," said Jake, a public speaker at the meeting. "I believe that we are rushing into this and doing this way too hastily. I think there needs to be more time committed to this project. I think there needs to be a wider debate that maybe involves not just us, but the valley."
In response, the applicants said they've done impact studies for the project, including a certified addendum Environmental Impact Report.
"... once an EIR has been certified, no subsequent environmental review needs to be completed unless there are substantial changes in the project that warrant additional review," city documents show.
Some public commenters asked for another EIR to be completed. The previous one was completed in May 2020.
The planning commission was split on the project, with those against the current proposal citing the similar environmental and traffic concerns. Commissioner Grant called for a full EIR to be conducted before moving forward with the project.
"I think it's a great project but given the size, I can't vote yes on it," Grant said.
One of the supports was Vice Chair James Nindel, who cited job creation and the city's need to not be so reliant on the cannabis industry.
"I do have concerns about the wildlife in the area. I've grown up in the Coachella Valley all my life," said Chairman Richard Duffle. "And I've seen wildlife when I was younger that is no longer around. I miss that wildlife but it's moved to other locations as humanity has progressed. Unfortunately, as man progresses there are things that have to change.
The Coachella Valley Multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan was created and approved in 2008. It was supposed to settle where you can develop and where you can't around the Coachella Valley. Desert Hot Springs has more conservation land than anyone else in the valley, according to Betts, who added the land in question is zoned for industrial.
Construction is planned to begin in June. If all things go according to plan, construction would be finished by Sept. 2023. The proposed project is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2023.