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Colby Circle townhome project extension to be considered by commission

The Colby Circle townhomes, a proposed housing development that has caused controversy among nearby residents, will take center stage again at this Wednesday’s architectural commission meeting.

The 96-unit proposed development at the northern end of the Old School House area came before the same body back in April for a two-year extension. But the commission pushed the decision for 90 days to gather more information and to see whether it can grant another extension—the sixth since the project was first proposed—with conditions set by community input.

That extension ends on August 9.

Intracorp Homes, a developer in the process of purchasing that part of the Old School House property from Harry Wu, has asked for the extension for a number of reasons, including obtaining approval of design changes, preparing construction plans, securing financing and obtaining permits, the city says.

The initial architectural plans were approved in 2007, and over time have been extended several times—in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2016 and again this past April. The architectural commission has been tasked with making a single finding—whether or not Intracorp could have avoided the delay. 

The city has cited the economic recession among the reasons why it has taken so long for the development to come to fruition. Additionally, the city wants the rest of the OSH specific plan to be constructed before the Colby Circle area is even touched.

No building permits for the site can be issued until a separate residential development—a 30-unit condominium building and 280-space parking garage on the site of the former Griswold’s Inn—is built.

Residents who live nearby have concerns with the size and scope of the project. The Law family, who’s home on Oxford Avenue directly borders the eastern end of the proposed development, have stated that part of the project would loom over their property, with second and third floor bedroom windows having a direct view of their back yard.

Some residents are calling for a new environmental impact report on the project, citing the long period of time from when the project was approved until now. The project currently has a mitigated negative declaration, not an EIR, because at a 2006 architectural meeting, Claremont city staff noted on the agenda that the project “will not have a significant effect on the environment.”

At the April 26 meeting, residents came out in droves against the project, and the architectural commission wrestled with making the finding before delaying the decision by 90 days for more information.

If the commission had denied the extension, the architectural plans would have expired on May 9, but the size of the project would have remained intact.

Since the April meeting, Intracorp has made a few changes to the design of the project, opting for two-story, detached, single-family homes on the north side of the site to serve as a “transition” between the project and the Griswold townhomes to the north.

The city has said in the agenda report that this idea would be “problematic,” noting that the move would push other buildings into the 10-foot setback area along the north side of Colby Circle and would limit common outdoor space in other parts of the development.

The meeting will take place in the city council chambers at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 24. There will be time for public comment.

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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