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Council Approves Plans for Project on Meadlowlark Site

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A City Council majority, overriding opposition by some homeowners, has approved preliminary plans for a shopping center and residential neighborhood to be built on the former Meadowlark Airport site.

As approved, the development planned for the 65-acre site on Warner Avenue east of Bolsa Chica Street may include up to 600 single-family homes, condominiums and apartments, along with a 15-acre shopping center. The tentative plans also allow a new road bisecting the project that would connect Warner and Heil avenues and serve the new residences.

Area residents have supported the shopping center, but a small, fervent group has rallied in protest against the residential proposals.

Opponents argued that the conceptual plan, by allowing as many as 240 apartments to be built next to their homes, would worsen the crime, traffic, noise and parking problems they say have already overtaxed their neighborhood. More than 100 apartments have replaced single-family homes in the area during recent years, city planners said.

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Sheryle Browning, one of four homeowners who spoke in opposition to the development plan at Monday’s council meeting, claimed to represent many of the 200 residents in the neighborhood west of the former airport site.

“To add more apartments right next to an already overdeveloped area is not in the interest of any of the homeowners,” she said.

But council members, on a 4-3 vote, agreed with city planning staff recommendations that the proposal include an adequate buffer between the existing neighborhood and the planned apartment complex. A brick wall and landscaping spread over a 25-foot strip will separate the new apartments from the neighborhood, according to the approved plans. Proponents also argued that the apartment complex to be built next to the area will be compatible with the recent apartment boom that has occurred in the area.

Councilman Don MacAllister, who led the support of the plan, said he believes that Planning Commission members and council members can minimize the effects of the development on the adjacent neighborhood during the pending use-permit approval process.

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