SEAL BEACH : City Delays Hearing on Bixby Ranch Development

City Council hearings on the proposed 223-home Bixby Ranch Co. development have been postponed until Nov. 13 in another delay of a project already five years in the making.

It has been a rocky road for the development plan, which includes a hotel and restaurant near the Old Ranch Country Club. The city Environmental Quality Control Board rejected the project's environmental impact report in May. The Planning Commission narrowly approved the report in June, but rejected a zoning change required for the overall project.

The votes were advisory to the City Council, which will make the final decision.

Bixby held a series of community meetings in 1990 seeking to head off the kind of controversy that had been generated by the city's most recent development proposal, said Lee Whittenberg, the city's director of development.

That project, Mola Development Corp.'s Hellman Ranch, sparked five years of debate and legal wrangling. Voters rejected it in 1991 in an advisory ballot.

"The city has always had difficulty with what they would consider large-scale development," said Ronald A. Bradshaw, Bixby senior vice president of real estate development. "We believe we've gone through a pretty thoughtful process with the city and the community."

Bradshaw predicts a minimum $800,000 in annual revenue for the city from the project.

Residents of the College Park East area who oppose to the project have been meeting regularly. They say traffic generated by the development would be intolerable.

"We're going to make a big deal out of this, there's no question about that," said resident John Follis. "Traffic and noise are the two main things."

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