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Vanguard University master plan changes return to Costa Mesa City Council

Vanguard University master plan changes return to Costa Mesa City Council
A rendering shows how the proposed master plan would affect the layout of Vanguard University. The white buildings currently exist; proposed new buildings are shown in blue. The Costa Mesa City Council will review the plan on Tuesday. (Courtesy of Vanguard University)

Vanguard University will have to clear another hurdle in its long-running quest for approval of a new campus master plan, after a Costa Mesa City Council member asked to take another look at the proposal.

Though the plan previously received a unanimous endorsement from the city Planning Commission, Mayor Sandy Genis filed an application last month to pull the matter up for the council’s review — citing concerns regarding “effects on nearby residents, including but not limited to noise, air quality and visual impacts.”

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Such worries, which are particularly potent for some residents in the nearby Monticello and Newport Landing communities off Vanguard Way, have dogged the master plan since the university publicly unveiled it earlier this year.

During their meeting Tuesday, council members will have the power to uphold, reverse or modify the commission’s approval.

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As envisioned, the master plan would allow Vanguard to reshape the 38-acre campus at 55 Fair Drive and grow enrollment from t2,098 students to as many as 2,700.

The plan outlines a dozen projects — including adding a four-level parking structure along Newport Boulevard and a 300-bed dormitory building; replacing the gymnasium and science, technology, engineering, math and kinesiology facilities; developing a new learning resource center that would replace the existing library and adding a new multi-disciplinary academic building alternative.

Planning commissioners also separately approved another master plan project: a new student center to replace the campus cafe and bookstore. Vanguard already broke ground on that.

Throughout the city review process, the consistent bone of contention has been the university’s proposal to relocate its maintenance and operations facility to the southwest corner of campus.

Nearby residents have said they feel that facility would bring disruptive noise to their doorsteps, ruin their views, potentially reduce their property values and bring dangerous truck traffic to Vanguard Way.

They’ve demanded the facility be located elsewhere and contended that university officials have not seriously considered alternative sites.

Vanguard administrators, however, say they did study that issue and eventually determined the chosen location remains the best option.

They also agreed to some design and operational changes aimed at reducing potential impacts — including setting it farther back from the property line, limiting its height to 22 feet, planting additional landscaping for screening and restricting outside noise-generating work to weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. and will take place in the Costa Mesa Senior Center, 695 W. 19th St., as the council chambers are currently unavailable due to an ongoing technology and infrastructure project.

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