Locked in a dispute with the Mission Viejo Co. over land-use, the City Council has scheduled six meetings in January, mainly to develop strategies to deal with the dispute.
At stake is control of the rapidly dwindling pockets of undeveloped land in this city of 75,000. City planners estimate that only about 10% of all usable land is not developed.
“This is probably the most pivotal period in our city’s young history,” said Mayor Robert A. Curtis. “It will definitely determine what fork on the road we will travel.”
In October, the council passed a state-required general plan, a blueprint for overall development in the city, which seriously conflicted with a planning document that was already in place: a 1987 development agreement between the county and the Mission Viejo Co.
The city’s general plan set aside land in several areas for open space and commercial development that the development agreement had marked for housing construction.
The Mission Viejo Co. reacted to the council’s decision by suing the city in November, challenging aspects of the general plan.
On Jan. 5, the council’s busy month will begin with a closed session meeting at 8 a.m. to discuss the lawsuit.
Two days later, they will meet with the Planning Commission to pinpoint the differences between the general plan and the development agreement.
Jan. 9, the council will hold the first of two public hearings on a deal negotiated by Mayor Curtis last May with the Mission Viejo Co. that proposes to exchange about seven acres of land earmarked as a civic center for city approval of a major corporate center at Crown Valley Parkway that includes a hotel-restaurant complex. The second hearing is set for Jan. 30.
At their regular meeting on Jan. 14, council members will decide what to do with a city hall site purchased by the city several months ago for about $3 million. Another major decision, whether to extend a 45-day building moratorium enacted last month to a full year, will be made by the council at the regular Jan. 28 meeting.