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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Appeal denied by council regarding Colby Circle housing

by Kathryn Dunn | editor@claremont-courier.com

The Claremont City Council denied an appeal filed in August for the Colby Circle housing development by a 4-0 vote. Councilmember Ed Reece recused himself due to a conflict of interest.

 

New plans for the 96-unit development were presented by the developer, Intracorp, who had purchased the property from Claremont Star LLP and its owner Harry Wu in 2019.

 

The appeal, filed by Moody T. Law and Family, Irene Meadows and Carol Painter, sought to override the planning commission’s approval of the project’s tract map, citing the city’s failure to properly notify residents, lack of a current environmental impact study, and the fact that the project was initially considered prior to the arrival of Trader Joe’s, which should have prompted a new traffic study.

 

“Most notably lacking are considerations of the increased density and the cumulative effect of traffic from Trader Joe’s, 30 new condos, the OSH complex and theater, and 96 townhomes in a dense corner of Foothill Boulevard and Indian Hill, surrounded by residential single-family homes,” the appellants argued.

 

At last Tuesday night’s council meeting, city staff refuted the need for additional environmental review, stating that 

 

In their appeal, the residents were not asking for cancellation of the project, but argued that the planning commission “violated their duty under CEQA and the city’s General and Specific Plans.”

 

“…It should be noted for the record, and seriously reviewed by the council, that the tract map approved over a decade ago fails to have received the necessary scrutiny under today’s standards, which have changed course over the years,” the residents stated in their appeal. “The planning commission had the opportunity and the obligation to review today’s standards and cumulative effect of this development.”

 

The updates include the addition of three two-story single-family homes along the westerly property line, with 41 units planned on the north of Colby Circle and 55 on the south. As far as buildings, there will be one two-story duplex building, nine two-story triplex buildings on the north abutting the Griswold’s gated townhomes and 10 three-story buildings on the south parcel, which is now the open parking lot for the Old School House. Intracorp also added 4,800 square feet of passive green space.

 

Unit sizes for the townhomes were also increased to 1,400 to 2,173 aquare feet, prompting some residents to raise concern about the lack of smaller, more affordable housing options for potential buyers.

 

City staff said the appeal was “not legally necessary because the planning commission was not the final decision maker.” Also, a council denial of the appeal was recommended because city staff believes there is no need for additional environmental review, stating that the Mitigated Negative Declaration adopted in 2006 for the development should suffice.

 

“CEQA documents do not expire or get stale,” the city said in its presentation.

 

Further, the city argues that the state’s CEQA guidelines does not allow a municipality to demand additional environmental review for a project unless there are substantial changes to the project or if there is new information that could not have been known during the prior review.

 

“None of those findings can be made here, especially with respect to the tentative tract map for the Colby Circle neighborhood, which is the only approval at issue,” the city said in Tuesday night’s presentation.

 

Additionally, the city said that greenhouse gas emissions analysis was not required in 2006 when the initial mitigated negative declaration was adopted.

 

“CEQA does not require reopening of environmental review to address new GHG standards, or any other changes to CEQA regarding new standards.”

 

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