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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Trumark submits revised La Puerta plan

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

The builder behind the planned housing development at the former La Puerta Intermediate school site, has submitted a revised plan to the city which addresses several of the concerns staff expressed regarding the initial application.

Most significantly, Trumark Homes has abandoned its request to annex about an acre of the existing La Puerta Sports Park to incorporate into the development, an idea that both city staff and local residents strongly resisted. In the previous plan Trumark was to remodel the sports park, including two full size soccer fields, and relocate the softball fields to Cahuilla Park, in exchange for the additional land. The new plan will limit the development to just the land Trumark is purchasing from Claremont Unified School District.

The new plan reduces the number of proposed single family homes from 65 to 56 and cuts two accessory dwelling units for a total of seven. Lot sizes will be increased 15% on interior streets and 20% along Forbes Avenue, which reduces the overall density of the development. Homes will range from 2,500 to 3,500 square feet.

Other revisions include altering the grading of the site to limit “hauling, import and raising the site more than needed.”

In a letter to Community Development Director Brad Johnson dated September 20, Trumark Vice President Eric Nelson said “as a result of direct feedback from the Claremont community” the firm explored plans to expand soccer fields at La Puerta and rebuild softball facilities at Cahuilla Park, an approach that required utilizing a small portion of the existing La Puerta Sports Park. Nelson also claims the plan received praise from “local sports leaders, neighbors, educators, coaches and parents.”

Public comments during the handful of meetings to date does not support Nelson’s claim about the plan’s popularity, with overwhelming opposition coming from the neighbors who live in the vicinity of the two parks and few comments in support. Specifically, residents near La Puerta opposed any change to the size of the existing sports park, a move that would require the city renegotiate a 99-year lease with the school district. Those residents have formed a loosely organized coalition called Keep La Puerta Public, which Nelson references in his letter to Johnson.

“Based on feedback from this group and the city, we have removed park improvement plans from the project. This resubmittal shows that the plan will be contained entirely to the former school site and remain a low-density single-family detached neighborhood,” Nelson wrote.

Johnson said the new plan appears to address some staff concerns but he has not had time to study it in full. He did say limiting the development to just the school site and changes to the grading were areas of planning staff concerns. Johnson intends to meet with an environmental consultant on Monday to discuss the upcoming environmental impact report and that the public will get to weigh in on the EIR in 60 to 90 days.

The changes will undoubtedly ease the concerns of those living adjacent to Cahuilla Park, but are unlikely to change the opinions of those who live near La Puerta. However, residents will have ample opportunity to comment as the La Puerta development is still very early in its progress through the commission and council process.

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