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WONDER VALLEY COMMUNITY GALVANIZES SUPPORT TO OPPOSE WONDER INN RESORT
Resident concerns include traffic, water use, light pollution and habitat destruction
Since the revelation of plans to develop a 25 acre resort/wellness center termed “Wonder Inn” at the site of the “Pink Building” on Amboy Road at Gammel Road, long term residents of Wonder Valley have organized under the StopWonderInn.org website. The initiative was organized by Eric Hamburg and other Wonder Valley residents.
According to Hamburg, who has lived across from the proposed resort location since 2000, a three acre site was purchased in 2020, along with an additional 134 acres south of the road frontage. While the three acre site has been zoned commercial from the time of its ownership by SoCAL Edison in the 1980’s, the additional acreage is zoned R-5, a residential designation. In November 2021 the owners, Alan R. Greenberg and Jason Landver, submitted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to San Bernardino County Land Services proposing to build a hotel/wellness /conference center on 25 acres of the property, requiring that 19 acres be rezoned from R-5 to Commercial.
Promotional video for the Wonder Inn
The proposed Wonder Inn consists of 106 rooms, constructed motel style with two stories, out of prefabricated containers (encompassing 42,000 square feet). These rooms ring a central area with a swimming pool and hot tubs and other spa facilities including a fitness center. The original Pink Building is envisioned to serve as the hotel reception lobby and as a 24/7 restaurant. Parking for 206 cars would be provided with a permeable membrane parking lot. Water storage from the 450 foot well would be provided by a 180,000 gallon tank constructed to the rear of the facility. Plans are for Shrouded LED lighting for all areas of the resort.
Details of the plan were unveiled to the public at a meeting called by Friends of Wonder Valley on May 1, 2022 at the Wonder Valley Community Center. Moderator Ken Sitz introduced two of the principals, Greenberg and David Mlynarski, consultant from Transtech Engineers. After the brief presentation the crowd of 100 was given the opportunity to speak. Primary resident concerns included:
1) Why was the Community not apprised of this project? The answer: developers had spoken to stakeholders in 29 Palms (not identified) and to the Morongo Basin Conservation Association (MBCA). Pat Flanagan of the MCBA spoke against the project later in the meeting.
2) The destruction of the habitat for the endangered desert tortoise would be permanently disrupted, among other hazards to wildlife. The answer: the vacant property on each side of the resort would allow animals go around the development and avoid damage from the resort.
3) The light from the 25 acre commercial operation would permanently pollute the desert night skies in the area. The answer: all lights would be LED shrouded to point downward.
4) The increase in traffic on Amboy Rd, an already dark and dangerous two lane blacktop with no shoulders, will lead to many more accidents. The answer: Cal Trans will add turn lanes for the development.
5) The draw on the aquifer to sustain a reverse osmosis operation providing 180,000 gallons in storage could affect the availability of water to nearby wells, and the septic leech field could affect the quality of water to the neighbors. The answer: a hydrology study had been completed and would be made available to the meeting organizers. No such study has been forthcoming although Land Services has received it for review.
One speaker summed up resident concerns: “How do you expect to offer the desert experience to visitors when you have destroyed the desert experience?”
The Stop Wonder Inn website has a link to sign up for newsletters to stay informed about ongoing developments and a direct link to send comments to Dawn Rowe, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors representative for the area. It is estimated that the resort development will take from 6 months to a year to be implemented. Stop Wonder Inn maintains that many more studies will be called for, and plans to repudiate the viability of this “out of place” resort.