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Plan to build 51 homes at former school site wins approval from H.B. Planning Commission

Plan to build 51 homes at former school site wins approval from H.B. Planning Commission
A rendering illustrates some of the single- and two-story homes planned for TRI Pointe Homes’ Sea Dance development in Huntington Beach. (Courtesy of city of Huntington Beach)

Plans to build 51 single-family homes on a former school site at 14422 Hammon Lane are moving forward after receiving unanimous approval from the Huntington Beach Planning Commission.

The 7-0 vote Tuesday night moved the proposal to the City Council for final approval in October.

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The Sea Dance residential project on the former site of Franklin Elementary School calls for 51 homes, a 1.3-acre public park, private streets, public utilities and a water quality basin lot. Each unit would have a two-car enclosed garage and a 400-square-foot minimum yard area.

The proposal was scheduled for review in July, but applicant Rick Wood of Irvine-based TRI Pointe Homes scaled down the project after community members voiced concerns about increased traffic and loss of public parkland. The project would replace Franklin Park, which is operated and maintained by the city of Huntington Beach and the Westminster School District.

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Wood reduced the number of homes to 51 from 53, decreased on-street parking to 70 spaces from 74 and increased the public park to 1.3 acres from 1.15.

Because the developer is seeking exceptions on lot sizes, Wood’s 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.

“I think we’ve done good work trying to figure out the best option to get this property developed,” Planning Commissioner Dan Kalmick said Tuesday.

Commissioner Michael Grant commended people in the neighborhood who were “very open-minded, very fair and were more than willing to come to the table and do everything possible to get a project in there that they could live with.”

Commission Chairman John Scandura voted to support the modified plan but scolded city staff for not recognizing early on that the community would push back against the proposal to reduce public parkland.

“The city has a long, long history of people wanting to preserve and maintain their parks and open space,” Scandura said. “You have to recognize when you go into a neighborhood and say we’re going to reduce park size, it’s kind of like the Old West’s ‘them’s fighting words.’”

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