The Huntington Beach Planning Commission approved the Meadowlark Airport Specific Plan Tuesday night, paving the way for construction of 600 homes and a 15-acre shopping center on the 1940s-vintage airfield.
The plan, passed on a 5-2 vote, calls for the closure of Meadowlark--one of just two remaining municipal airports in Orange County--60 days after the first conditional use permit is issued by the city to Art and Dick Nerio, whose family has owned the tiny airstrip since 1952.
The City Council must approve the new plan, which is expected to be considered early next year.
Tuesday night's decision came after an uneventful and sparsely attended 1 1/2-hour hearing at which just two citizens addressed the commission: one in favor of the plan and one opposed.
The decision also concluded several months of public wrangling over development of the 65-acre airport, located in the heart of suburban Huntington Beach, east of Bolsa Chica Street between Warner and Heil avenues.
Meadowlark has been the site of several plane accidents in the past decade, so many residents want it closed.
The specific plan, which Commissioners Victor L. Eipzig and Jean Schumacher voted against, dictates the density of the 600 units on 50 acres of the property.
The Planning Commission on Nov. 18 had voted to rezone the property from low density residential to a planned community designation and set a limit of 600 units on the homes. On Tuesday night, commissioners decided that a minimum of 18 acres would be used to build single-family, detached homes with a maximum of seven units per acre.
The specific plan permits a maximum of 20 acres of medium density housing--condominiums and town houses--and allows for a maximum of 12 acres for medium-high-density housing, which will most likely be apartments.
Dick Harlow, a spokesman for the Nerios, said the commercial portion of the new development will probably be the first of several phases of construction, and he estimated that the project will cost "well over $100 million."