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ANAHEIM : Sudden Moratorium Stuns Developers

Local developers were scrambling Wednesday to adjust to a 45-day moratorium that will halt construction on about a dozen major projects in the Disneyland area.

The City Council voted unexpectedly Tuesday night to impose the moratorium pending completion of a study of the 1,040-acre area, taking developers by surprise.

“We’ve been playing by the rules. Now, it’s almost the end of the game, and the rules are changed,” said Phillip R. Schwartze, a planner for a project that was awaiting approval and will now be stalled.

Allan B. Hughes, executive director of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, said that city officials should have discussed the moratorium with the business community.

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“It came up overnight,” Hughes said. “We were caught really flat-footed.”

All plans to build hotels, motels, restaurants and similar facilities have been placed on hold, unless shovels are already in the ground and substantial work is under way. No new proposals will be accepted, and only repairs or refurbishings to existing buildings will be exempted from the ban.

The ordinance went into effect when City Council voted, 4-1, to pass the most restrictive of three measures proposed by city staff. Councilman William D. Ehrle voted against the moratorium.

“The council cannot create a utopia through a moratorium,” Ehrle said. “We can either pass or fail these projects. We don’t need a moratorium.”

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The new law comes as a response to an ongoing city-initiated study of the entire Disneyland area, which includes Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center.

The $300,000 study, which is already two months behind schedule, will take two more months to complete, city planners said.

In November, the city partially restricted growth by allowing the City Council the final say on all major projects proposed for the area.


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