Planning commission recommends plan to develop quarry on east side

The Colleges’ plan to turn a former quarry at the county border into a sports complex is moving forward to the city council.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to recommend the Claremont University Consortium’s (CUC) plan—which includes the environmental impact report (EIR), conceptual site plan, tentative parcel map and 30-year development agreement. An amendment was also added to the recommendation calling for adherence to future city tree-shading policies.

The plan will now move forward to the city council on October 25 for approval, according to Director of Community Development Brian Desatnik.

“It’s really exciting,” Pam Steele of Riverside-based MIG Hogle-Ireland—the group spearheading the project—told the commission. “We’re taking something that’s not very attractive and we’re going to bring something that really will beautify the city at this eastern end.”

The lot sits directly on the border of Claremont and Upland, as well as Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. The environmental impact report (EIR) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review was approved and passed by the Upland City Council in May 2016.

Claremont’s side of the lot is divided into three parcels. The first and most northernmost parcel will go to Pitzer College, which is planning to build a tennis court, two volleyball courts and a basketball court, among other facilities.

The second and middle parcel, part of which is in Upland, will go to Claremont McKenna College and will include a baseball and football field, as well as an archery range, golf practice area and an Argentinean paddle tennis court.

The baseball field will be about 50 feet below grade, taking advantage of the topography currently at the former quarry, according to Ms. Steele.

“Actually the site itself, as a pit, kind of lends itself to the development of the sports field because it provides the natural terrain for spectators sitting and watching the game,” she said.

The current baseball and football fields on the existing CMC property along Sixth Street will be removed to make room for “future planned development.”

The third parcel consists of a tiny sliver of leftover land at the bottom left corner, which the CUC will own.

Part of the Colleges’ plan is to remove eight trees along the eastern edge of Claremont Boulevard to make room for three entry points. Those trees will be replaced when development is underway.

The commission was generally in favor of the project, but commissioner Doug Lyon was concerned about tree cover in a parking lot on the site. He cited a call for a policy outlined in the general plan that requires 50 percent tree coverage in “constructed, paved and concrete surfaces within five years of construction.”

Mr. Lyon asked if the CUC could adhere to it when development starts, but Mr. Desatnik noted that an actual policy regarding tree shading had not been adopted yet.

CUC CEO Stig Lanesskog was hesitant about agreeing to the condition, citing concerns about flexibility for the project’s future development.

“I think conceptually, trying to agree to something when we don’t know what it is, is challenging for us, as I’m sure you can understand,” he said.

In the end, the commission reached an agreement on an amendment to the resolution, calling for the CUC to adhere to “future landscape policies with regard to tree shading,” according to Mr. Desatnik.

Mr. Desatnik also noted that the tree coverage policy could be brought up sometime in the fall. “Honestly I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, if it’s going to be a straight 50 percent or if it’s going to be a graduated scale based on different environments,” he said.

During public comment, resident Jacob Patterson cautioned the commission against entering into the 30-year development agreement, citing the CUC’s hesitance to “tie their hands” to the tree shading policy while at the same time calling on the city to enter into an agreement that would bind the city to existing development standards.

“I don’t see a reason why the development agreement is necessary to this project without having some sort of balancing for the city,” he said.

Following the creation of the amendment, the motion passed, 5-0. Commissioner K.M. Williamson was absent from the meeting, while commissioner Cynthia Humes recused herself due to her job at CMC.

—Matthew Bramlett


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