Orange residents opposed to a housing project approved by the City Council last month said Thursday that they have collected enough signatures to force a referendum to try to overturn the decision.
Critics of the 177-home development in an old sand-and-gravel field say the 110-acre site should remain open space. The site is in a potential flood area and next to the closed Villa Park Landfill, which continues to emit methane gas.
They turned in nearly 9,000 signatures to the city clerk's office Thursday morning. They need 5,847 valid signatures, or 10% of the number of registered voters in Orange, to qualify for the March ballot.
The county registrar of voters must verify the signatures. If the referendum qualifies, it will be the first in Orange's history.
"We have more than enough" signatures, said Shirley L. Grindle, an activist and member of Orange Citizens for Parks and Schools, which organized the petition. "This will be on the ballot if the City Council does not rescind their decision."
An official with developer Fieldstone Communities Inc. said the company has been doing its own community outreach and is confident the project will survive a possible referendum.
"The majority of the citizens will be glad to see the sand-and-gravel field gone," said Steve Cameron, the company's Orange County president.