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H.B. commission wants more research before public hearing on modified plan for homes on former school site

H.B. commission wants more research before public hearing on modified plan for homes on former school site
Irvine-based TRI Pointe Homes proposes to build 51 single-family homes on the former Franklin Elementary School site at 14422 Hammon Lane in Huntington Beach. (Bing Maps / Daily Pilot)

Huntington Beach planning commissioners directed staff Tuesday night to conduct more research in time for a public hearing next month on a modified proposal to build 51 single-family homes on a former school site at 14422 Hammon Lane.

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The Sea Dance development planned for the 8.75-acre Franklin Elementary School site was slated for review in July, but applicant Rick Wood of Irvine-based TRI Pointe Homes delayed the item in order to scale down the project after hearing residents’ concerns about increased traffic congestion and losing public parkland.

Wood’s revised plan reduces the proposed number of homes to 51 from 53, decreases on-street parking to 70 spaces from 74 and increases the public park area to 1.30 acres from 1.15. The plan also outlines private streets, public utilities and a water quality basin lot.

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Wood is requesting a permit to develop the single-family homes with reduced lot widths — instead of the minimum 60 feet — and varying lot sizes instead of the minimum 6,000 square feet, according to city staff.

A Planning Commission public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 11.

At a study session Tuesday, commission Chairman John Scandura asked whether there is a code requirement for the number of street parking spaces offered. City Associate Planner Jessica Bui said there isn’t.

Scandura said discussing the proposed park is “a little unusual” because the city’s Community Services Commission could view the project through a different lens and potentially make different recommendations.

City Planning Manager Jane James said the commissions review different aspects. The Community Services Commission would review the area inside the park and how it looks, James said.

Because the developer is seeking exceptions on lot sizes, the project must provide benefits both for residents of the new development and the general public, according to city planners.

Proposed benefits include the public park and improvements such as landscaping, irrigation, lighting and playground equipment that the area homeowners association would maintain at no cost to taxpayers. Members of the public could legally park on private streets to use the new park.

The project eventually could save the public money because it would replace Franklin Park, which is operated and maintained by the city of Huntington Beach and the Westminster School District, according to city planning staff.

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