Just wanted to give you a quick update about the Planning Commission meeting from February 11, 2013. It was an interesting evening of interaction between the Planning Commissioners and representatives from both sides of the development issue. The Conservancy was first to present comments. Our stance involved the inadequacies of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) from the stand point of the lack of preservation alternatives and mitigation measures and the illegal aspects of the variances needed for two of the lots that have less-than-required street frontage. The owners, of course, felt that City staff had done a fine job on the FEIR and were hopeful that the Commissioners would agree and move the project forward with a recommendation “for development” to the City Council. The main objective of the owners (Orange Lutheran High School & Concordia University Irvine), as stated at the meeting, is to “monetize the asset.” The Commissioners, however, were not in agreement. Some of the Commissioners had concerns about the FEIR and wanted it to go back to staff, others had concerns about a two-story development being built in a one-story neighborhood. There were other concerns about the development as well. Two comments were especially disappointing to hear from some of the Commissioners. The first was that a couple of the commissioners were not that familiar with reading and understanding EIRs and second was about property rights. Understanding an EIR would seem to be a basic function of a Planning Commissioner as well as the fact that we are going through a process afforded any member of the public – that is to have input on any development that will affect our lives – property rights are not in question here.
Now to the vote — they were split 3-3. In a tie situation, the property owner has the choice of returning to the Planning Commission in hopes of a different outcome on the vote or forwarding a recommendation of denial of the project on to the City Council. The owner chose to move the item forward to the City Council. Even though it is not a majority vote for denial, it is a denial and that is important.
There have been various delays is getting this to the City Council since the Planning Commission vote in February. The latest information we have is that the public hearing for the Sexlinger Farmhouse and Orchard Development Project will go before the City Council on Monday, July 1, 2013 at 5:45. We will keep you posted on updates and links to the agenda as they become available.
Thank you for your support. Your comments and questions are welcome!