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Newport Beach : 200 Jam City Hall for Newport Center Meeting

More than 200 people jammed the City Council chambers Monday night to voice their opinions about the Irvine Co.'s massive plan to expand Newport Center.

Company officials urged the council to look favorably on its proposal, which covers a 518-acre area and includes plans for new office towers, boutiques, restaurants, town houses, cultural amenities and road improvements in and around eastern Newport Beach.

“Newport Center is nearly 20 years old,” Irvine Co. President Thomas H. Nielsen told the council. “It’s time to upgrade the center to meet the community’s needs for the next 20 years.”

But some homeowners were not convinced and expressed concerns that such a large development could bring unwanted traffic congestion and additional people to the exclusive, resort city of 65,000.

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A representative of SPON (Stop Polluting Our Newport) told the council the group was not satisfied with the environmental impact report for the project and urged the council to form an advisory group of homeowner associations.

In 1982, SPON spearheaded an effort by slow-growth advocates to squash the Irvine Co.'s plan to expand Newport Center after the City Council had approved the project. SPON collected enough signatures for a referendum on the project, prompting the Irvine Co. to withdraw its proposal.

The Irvine Co. has since revised the project, scaling down the amount of office space by 30% and designating 75% of the undeveloped land in the area for new housing. Another public hearing is scheduled July 14.


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