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ORANGE : Hearing on Street Widening Delayed

About 100 residents who waited more than four hours earlier this week to voice opposition to the city’s largest public works project were angered when officials decided to delay the Planning Commission’s public hearing on a massive street-widening plan.

The widening project was the last of five public hearings to go before commissioners. By the time residents had a chance to speak on the plan at 11:15 p.m., about half of the approximately 130 people opposing the project had gone home.

“This was supposed to be a public hearing and the public wasn’t heard,” said Old Towne realtor Dan Slater. “This is an outrage.”

Residents accused the commission of “filibustering” and “gerrymandering” to quash opposition to the divisive plan. But Planning Commission Chairman Randy Bosch assured them that postponing the matter to an earlier hour would guarantee a fair hearing.

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At Commissioner Mark Murphy’s suggestion, the board agreed to schedule a special meeting to discuss the issue on Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. The widening project will be the sole item on the agenda.

The controversial plan to widen portions of Glassell and Main streets and La Veta and Chapman avenues would dramatically alter the face of Old Towne and downtown Orange, and would require the relocation or demolition of 46 homes and 33 businesses, including some historic buildings.

The plan is part of the city’s blueprint to handle future traffic needs. Traffic officials say the changes must be approved to match growth and development plans that have already been adopted.

It is “supply and demand. It’s really that simple,” said Bernie Dennis, the city traffic engineer. He added that any modification of the plan could make the city ineligible for transportation funds from various sources.

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The street-widening plan, which has been in the works for decades, would widen La Veta between Flower and Cambridge streets and a portion of Glassell between La Veta and Culver avenues from four to six lanes driving lanes; expand Main Street between Town & Country Road and Orangewood Avenue to six lanes, and widen Chapman Avenue to six lanes between the Orange Freeway and Main Street.


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