Council continues meeting due to extensive public comment

by Kathryn Dunn |

The Claremont City Council on Tuesday had planned to review the Planning Goals and Guiding Principles for the proposed Village South development to determine the scope of an EIR for the project; however, an abundance of public comment delayed action until Thursday night.

The online Zoom meeting lasted more than six hours, forcing the council to continue public comment on Village South to Thursday.

According to the agenda packet for Tuesday’s meeting, the adopted goals and principles currently allows for up to three-story buildings to be set back 200 feet from Indian Hill Boulevard and Arrow Highway.

There was confusion in the community over the number of units and height of buildings the city was considering, which resulted several petitions circulating online.

One petition posted on called for more freedom in the planning process and to allow city staff to consider five- or even six-story buildings with a better variety of rental and for-sale units.

A separate petition hosted on the website of a South Claremont council candidate, Nicole Wirick, expressed concern that a development of this size would “ruin Claremont,” creating a traffic nightmare on Indian Hill and overwhelming an already bustling Village with more visitors.

Hundreds of signatures flooded in on both petitions, as well as numerous form letters submitted to the council through the city’s website, as residents on both sides mobilized this week in an attempt to sway the council one way or the other.

A ton of form letters with the subject line “Stop High Density Housing in Village South” were sent from the email address and submitted to Nichole Huetinck, administrative assistant to Claremont’s city manager.

“Please join us Claremont residents with saving our city from this developer driven unsustainable Village South proposal,” the form letter said in part. “The city shouldn’t keep cramming into south Claremont what residents elsewhere don’t want elsewhere. Housing sites are available all over the city. It’s not necessary to cram most of the needed housing into one two-block area. Please adhere to the Guiding Principles, which you so carefully developed after extensive public input.”

Those in favor of high-density in Village South were equally passionate. In their petition, supporters called for a sustainable and mixed-use development that would push Claremont to the forefront of modern developments.

“We support an inclusive community of businesspeople and residents in the heart of Claremont with a diversity of housing options, efficient and active modes of transportation, human-scaled design with safe, walkable streets and public spaces, and healthy air quality—all powered by renewable energy,” the petition said.

The Facebook page “Claremont South Village,” which is managed by the project developers Arteco Partners and Village Partners, even paid Facebook to boost the petition in a sponsored post.

The Facebook boost was effective, increasing the number of signatories in support of the project to 420 people just prior to Tuesday’s meeting. Of those, 199 were Claremont residents. But the online blast also resulted in signatures from people in far away places like Kansas, Michigan and Florida, and even other countries such as Mongolia, Bolivia and Argentina.

In the agenda packet that went to council before the meeting, city staff wrote that in order to start this process, the city’s consultant “worked up a maximum development scenario that included up to 1,140 residential units.” But in the next paragraph of the report, the city said the EIR is currently set to study impacts for 800 to 900 housing units.

“Multiple land use alternatives and scenarios will be included in the Draft EIR, but 900 is currently the maximum number of residential units that will be analyzed,” the city’s report said.

The council heard more public comment and, presumably, made its decision Thursday night whether or not to relax the restrictions set by the guiding principles to allow city staff to expand the scope of the EIR.

Visit the COURIER website for coverage of Thursday night’s meeting.



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