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NEWPORT BEACH : Council Delays Vote on Library Site Deal

The City Council delayed a vote on a land swap agreement between the city and the Irvine Co. after one council member expressed concern that the exchange may not be equitable.

The land swap is part of a package put together to gain a site for the city’s new central library, and the agreement must be signed before design plans can proceed for the new research and community center.

Under the terms of the deal, the city will give two acres of land in Newport Center, plus development rights, in exchange for four acres near the corner of Avocado Avenue and Coast Highway. The Irvine Co. would still have some development rights on the remaining acres it owns at that site.

Councilwoman Jean H. Watt said last week that she was not sure that the exchange was fair since under the agreement, the Irvine Co. would have discretion to transfer development rights from the Avocado Avenue site to one of two Newport Center sites.

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If the developer transferred those rights--which include rights to generate a certain amount of traffic--the agreement could result in a larger project being built because the company would be entitled to combine the traffic allowances from the Avocado and Newport Center sites.

Along with authorizing the land swap, the architect’s contract, and a budget amendment to pay for the $7-million library building, the City Council must approve an application for a $1-million federal grant for construction costs. The city must approve the measures by June 1 to meet the grant deadline, City Librarian LaDonna Kienitz said.

The City Council will reconsider the land swap at a May 28 meeting.


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