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Supervisors Praise but Withhold Approval of Boys Town Project

Times Staff Writer

While expressing support for Boys Town USA’s proposal to build five homes in Trabuco Canyon for troubled and needy youths, the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday sent the project back to the Planning Commission for a new environmental review.

The commission approved the project in August, prompting a preservationist group, the Rural Canyons Conservation Fund, to file a lawsuit charging that the project violated zoning guidelines for grading and ridgeline development in the area northeast of Mission Viejo. Environmentalists also wanted Boys Town USA to explain what it plans to do with the portion of its 76-acre parcel that is not developed.

Boys Town USA spent $1.6 million last year to buy the property and develop its first campus in the western United States to care for abused and neglected youths. The group, encouraged by the county’s Social Services Agency to locate here, has proposed building five 3,900-square-foot homes on five acres along a ridge between Rose and Hickey canyons not far from Trabuco Canyon Road. About six to eight youths ages 9 to 15 would live in each house.

Environmentalists argue that the group has enough acreage to build the homes on flatter land, where they would be less visible and cause less disruption to wildlife habitat and views. There are also concerns that the group might develop single-family homes on the rest of the acreage.

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In praising the project, supervisors sent the project back to the Planning Commission for additional study to satisfy community concerns about its impact. Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez also suggested that the five Boys Town homes be built on a minimum of three acres each to provide more open space.

A Boys Town USA representative said the group has no intention of developing the balance of its property in the near future.


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