Tollway Board Agrees to Landscaping Plans


Citizen protests and heavy lobbying by city officials have persuaded directors of the Foothill Eastern Transportation Corridor to follow through with a plan for landscaping near the toll road’s interchange in Orange.

At a meeting Thursday, the agency’s directors agreed to use $200,000 from a $2-million contingency fund to cover the cost of planting pepper and eucalyptus trees and installing a permanent irrigation system.

Residents of Orange Park Acres and Santiago Hills had accused the agency in February of reneging on elaborate landscape plans shown to citizens of the communities two years ago.


Builders of the tollway maintained that the three-pronged interchange planned for Orange would run through areas designated as “rural” that would need only drought-resistant landscaping.

Neighbors and Mayor Joanne Coontz, who is a member of the transportation agency board, insisted that was not enough to make the interchange aesthetically pleasing.

Agency board member Collene Campbell of San Juan Capistrano insisted that the dispute was a misunderstanding and resented the implication that the board had not acted in good faith.

But board member Todd Spitzer congratulated the community groups for their activism and thanked them for not trying to delay the project with lawsuits.

“I think the community deserves this,” he said of the landscaping to be installed.