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Decision to extend plans for a housing project is extended

After over two hours of meeting time, the architectural commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to continue the decision to extend the design approvals for the Colby Circle Townhome project, a 96-unit development that is part of the Old School House specific plan, for 90 days.

Nearby residents are concerned about the size and the scale of the project, which was approved in 2007 and has been extended four times since then. The city claims that the economic recession, in addition to the complexities of implementing the entire OSH specific plan, are reasons why it has taken so long.

Primarily, the townhomes, which would take out parking lots on each side of Colby Circle, could only be built after a 128-space parking structure is completed on the former site of the Claremont Inn, according to Claremont Senior Planner Leticia Cardoso.

The commission was tasked with making one finding—whether or not the applicant could not avoid delay and needed the extension.

The applicant, Intracorp Homes, is in the process of purchasing the property from OSH property owner Harry Wu, and is looking for an extension to evaluate potential design changes, prepare a construction plan, secure financing and obtain necessary permits and approvals. Ms. Cardoso said.

Seventeen people, mostly nearby residents on Oxford Avenue and the Griswold Townhomes, spoke during public comment, urging the commission to deny the extension.

If the extension were denied, the design approvals would have expired on May 9, voiding the design of the project but keeping the size. The 90-day extension pushes back that deadline, city spokesperson Bevin Handel said.

Suzanne Christian called for a new environmental impact report (EIR) and said congestion around Colby and Indian Hill would be even worse with this project in place.

Other commenters echoed this idea.

“I think it would be great to get an applicant in there, who starts over at the beginning, sits down, and executes this plan quickly and efficiently with input from the community,” resident Marcia LaPierre, who lives on Oxford Avenue, said.

Claremont resident John Jurewitz called the 12-year-old plan, which has not been revised since it was approved in 2007, “stale.”

After discussion, where commissioners wrested with a seemingly difficult decision to extend the project, they decided to push the decision while the city looks into whether the commission can approve an extension on the design approvals with conditions to include further review and community input along the way, and to get more clarification in the city codes regarding the granting of time extensions.

More on this meeting will be in next week’s issue of the COURIER.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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