MISSION VIEJO : Apartments Win OK Despite Noise Issue

An 850-unit apartment complex approved by the City Council this week requires the Mission Viejo Co. to provide financial security in order to protect the city against any legal challenges to the housing tract.

The project could still be scuttled if noise caused by Marine jets returning to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station turns out to be excessive. As a condition of approval, noise levels will be monitored at the site over the next four months.

Excessive noise was the reason the county Airport Land Use Commission denied the project last September. The complex would be built on approximately 50 acres located just off El Toro Road at the city's northern border.

The council was concerned on Monday that the city could be sued if it overturned the commission's decision.

Company officials said they would put a clause into tenants' contracts notifying them of the noise, but a council majority also wanted the developer to back it up with a bond.

"I am concerned about the liability issue," said Councilman Lawrence H. Smith.

Without any form of financial security offered by the company, the project was rejected on a 3-2 vote, Mayor Joseph D. Lowe and Councilwoman Susan Withrow supporting the project.

After taking a break, the council held a second vote and approved the project after deciding to impose financial security as a condition of approval.

The exact nature and amount of the financial consideration will be worked out between city and company officials.

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