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Equestrians and residents in Chino Hill’s English Road area have expressed concerns about a proposal to build a large church in their neighborhood. The proposal seeks a Conditional Use Permit for a church at the intersection of English Road and Peyton Drive with a 297-seat sanctuary, 110 parking spaces, offices, and group assembly rooms in the midst of the city’s unique Equestrian Overlay area.

“A church is not compatible with our neighborhood’s use and character,” said Suzi Vlietstra, president of the Chino Hills Horsemen’s Association. “Once exceptions are made to allow non-equestrian entities into our community, then horses will begin to get squeezed out. Horsemen have seen this happen all over the United States; horsekeeping gets zoned out because communities don’t unite to preserve equestrian areas,” Vlietstra said.

Bill Hughes, a Chino Hills resident and internationally-known Arabian horse breeder explained “As a life-long horseman, I have seen this happen dozens of times: city folks move in and horses are forced out.” Mr. Hughes, former president of the 30,000 member Arabian Horse Association, has lived next door to the proposed church site for nearly 37 years. He added “I thought our community’s horses would be safe because of the Equestrian Overlay zone, especially after millions of privately-donated dollars were spent to create the McCoy Equestrian Center, the heart of our community. Allowing a large non-equestrian entity here is not in the best interests of the city or the community. ”

Mr. Hughes is referring to the City of Chino Hills’ Equestrian Overlay, a special zone initiated by the city in 2006 to ‘Preserve the City’s rich and distinct rural heritage and the many existing equestrian and large animal uses and establishments’ in the area. “There are nearly 500 horses, an equine hospital, a dozen trainers, and the McCoy Equestrian Center in the English Road Equestrian Overlay,” said Mr. Hughes. “It’s one of the most unique horse areas left in California, and we need to preserve it.” he said.

Equestrians have cited concerns about additional traffic, noise, dust, and drainage issues and general incompatibility with the proposed project, and have sent the City of Chino Hills an 8 page letter of concern signed by 63 residents and riders from the area. The city has indicated it plans to allow the proposed project by issuing a Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration, which is a preliminary review and approval of the Hanaro project, but welcomes additional input from the community.

Interested persons should plan to attend the City of Chino Hills Planning Commission Meeting on May 4th. The meeting will be held at 7 pm in the Council Chambers at 14000 City Center Drive, Chino Hills, 91709. Letters of concern may be submitted to the same address by May 4th, directed to the Planning Commission.

Additional information is available of the Chino Hills Horsemen’s Association website, www.chinohillshorsemen.com.

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