Plans for a combination gas station, tuneup shop and carwash were scrubbed by the City Council on Tuesday night after nearly 75 residents packed council chambers in protest.
Developer Joel Burnstine maintained his project’s design would actually reduce the amount of noise and nighttime light to neighbors of the 1.7-acre lot on the southwest corner of Michelson and Culver drives. There is now a gas station at the site.
But council members voted 4-0 against the project, overruling the city Planning Commission, which had unanimously approved the project on Aug. 4. Councilman Barry J. Hammond abstained from voting, citing potential conflict of interest because his business involves the service station industry.
The council vote came after more than an hour of angry comments from residents of nearby condominiums and townhomes who said the proposed business was too large for the lot and would increase noise and traffic. City planners previously granted Burnstine an exemption from new zoning laws in the University Park neighborhood that would have required a four-acre lot for his proposed business.
“If they start that kind of density in Irvine, it’s all over,” said homeowner Joe Patrick. “Once you set that kind of precedent, you cannot stop it.”
Councilman Greg Smith, who brought the residents’ appeal to the council, acknowledged that Burnstine had gone to “some fairly incredible lengths” to modify his plan to satisfy nearby residents. But residents at the meeting were in no mood for compromise, reacting loudly to Burnstine’s presentation.