If he can't get permission to build 3,900 residential units in south Orange County, an executive with a local development company said Wednesday, the county probably won't get the $40-million worth of roads his firm had agreed to finance.
The Board of Supervisors postponed action Wednesday on three development agreements that would protect plans for major residential projects from future growth controls and approved three other such agreements. One of the agreements that was postponed was with Hon Development Co.
In return for assurances from the supervisors that Hon's building plans would not be blocked later, the developer had promised to spend $40 million on roads around its Whiting Ranch development near El Toro Road.
"What's so disappointing is that the agreement we negotiated in good faith is a win situation for the county," said Gerald Buck, a top Hon executive. "Without the agreements, I suspect it's not going to be possible to finance the road construction."
Warning on Coalition
Indeed, Buck said, without the agreements, a coalition of 11 developers formed to build $235 million worth of new roads under the Foothill Circulation Phasing Plan is in danger of disintegrating.
Hon is the second-largest participant in the plan. Santa Margarita Co., which wants to build 12,000 houses nearby at its Rancho Santa Margarita development, had agreed to spend $82 million. But the supervisors also delayed a decision on that company's proposal Wednesday.
"It's been a real challenge to keep 11 property owners together on this and finally reach an agreement," Buck said.
Santa Margarita Co. President Anthony R. Moiso, who attended a long public hearing on the development agreements before the supervisors Wednesday, has also said the new roads can't be built without a guarantee that the developers will be allowed to build the houses.
The backers of a countywide slow-growth initiative--which polls show has widespread voter support--have criticized the development agreements as a blatant attempt by developers to circumvent the proposed ballot measure.
The supervisors are signing away their control over future growth, initiative backers contend, in return for roads that developers would eventually have to build anyway. But the developers reply that they are agreeing to build the roads sooner and at greater expense under the development agreements than otherwise would be the case.
Pledged $7 Million
Dove Canyon Development Co., which wants to build the 1,300-home Dove Canyon project, is the third firm whose development agreement was not acted upon Wednesday. It had pledged $7 million to the Foothill Circulation Phasing Plan. Dove Canyon officials couldn't be reached for comment.
Among the companies whose development agreements were approved Wednesday was the Mission Viejo Co., which plans to build 20,000 homes by the year 2005 on 3,400 acres in southwest Orange County just west of the San Diego Freeway.
"We're very pleased," said spokeswoman Wendy Wetzel. "We believe this will expedite road-building in the area."
Mission Viejo has already built 2,300 homes in its Aliso Viejo development.
"The development agreement means we're building roads much sooner, and we're building them outside our own land," Wetzel said.
The three developers whose agreements were not approved Wednesday, as well as others yet to come before the board, will be watching the supervisors carefully in coming days.
Hon Development was careful to stress a conciliatory attitude Wednesday.
"We have no alternative but to do as the supervisors recommended, which is to work toward a satisfactory agreement," Buck said.