City scraps plans for large freeway sign at Towne and Base Line

After an uproar from residents at a recent planning commission meeting, Claremont officials assert a 60-foot freeway sign is no longer being considered at Towne Avenue and Base Line Road.

While the city may decide to rezone the southeast corner of the busy freeway intersection at a future undetermined date, City Manager Tony Ramos assured residents, who vocalized their concerns again at the Tuesday night city council meeting, that a large freeway sign was no longer in the plans.

“I have sent [the proposal] back to staff to do further research…and, if the retail designation were to stay in place, other signage will be addressed, not including a 60-foot pylon sign,” he said.

Fears were stirred earlier this month after residents received a letter laying out the city’s intent to review a possible amendment to the city’s zoning code. The proposed zone change would allow a tall sign to be erected at the strawberry patch in order to support a potential small retail development. The lot is zoned mixed-use, which allows for commercial uses, but does not allow for tall signage.

Discussion of the sign and the small retail development was scheduled for the October 15 planning commission meeting. In spite of the city’s letter, however, the review was unexpectedly pulled off of the agenda. Officials later explained that more research needed to be done.

The delay did not deter residents, about a dozen of whom spoke in protest during the public comment portion of the planning commission meeting. Among them was Janet Peddy, director of finance, planning and operations at The Webb Schools, who spoke again before the council on Tuesday night.

“We appreciate that there are very thoughtful and deliberate processes in place to make sure Claremont is developed in a way that can be enjoyed and celebrated by all of its residents,” Ms. Peddy said. “We also understand the city staff is now preparing additional information to bring to you and to other commissioners that will hopefully once and for all put the idea of mixed-use on this parcel to rest.”

Reiterating that a large pylon sign is no longer in consideration, Mr. Ramos further reassured that the developer, City Ventures, has not made plans to build a retail development at the site. Should a zone change be considered in the future, he maintained the review process would be made open to the public.

“I met with the developer last week, gave them some direction on what we need to further do some research on and then we will be back through the process.”

Tuesday night’s council meeting also included an address by Assemblyman Chris Holden and staffing changes relating to the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act. See Friday’s edition of the COURIER for a full report.

—Beth Hartnett


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