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Anaheim : Auto Park Is Going In, New Wetlands to Arise

Blue herons and other wildlife that make an Anaheim marshland their home will have to move over to make way for an auto sales park, city officials decided Tuesday.

The migratory birds that occupy 7.2 acres of a 10.5-acre site at Ball Road and the Orange Freeway will have to fly only about five miles further because the city plans to create a new wetlands to replace the marsh that will be paved over.

Opposed last year by environmental groups who argued that the marshland habitat is the last in the city and irreplaceable, the plan to fill in the area that 10 or 15 years ago was a sand and gravel pit now is viewed by all sides as “a win-win situation,” said John Anderson, an associate city planner.

Donna Mackiewicz, conservation chairwoman for the Sea and Sage chapter of the Audubon Society, said: “We are always sorry to see the habitat destroyed, but the city put forth a new plan for a new wetland . . . . It will be a more productive, more protected area.”

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Last week, the city received a permit from the California Department of Fish and Game for the project. Anaheim obtained a similar permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which called for a replacement wetlands as a condition for the permit.

Anderson said the new wetlands on 9.7 acres at La Palma Avenue and Weir Canyon Road will be fed by the Santa Ana River and will provide a better wetlands than the one it replaces.

Mackiewicz said Anaheim’s “from scratch,” man-made wetlands will be one of a few in existence and is “kind of risky.”

“We’re still against their filling in, but if they have to, this is the best thing they could do.”

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City officials expect the auto center at 2790 E. Ball Road to bring in $500,000 to $600,000 in tax revenue.


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