The San Clemente City Council tentatively approved plans to eventually build more than 2,000 homes on the 1,770-acre Forster Ranch.
The council's 3-1 vote Wednesday night gave the Centex Development Corp. preliminary approval of its long-range plan for the land, which it would buy from Estrella Properties, a firm which has had a stormy relationship with the city.
Centex's plan includes construction of up to 2,200 new homes and condominiums over the next 10 to 15 years, along with two commercial sites--one 57 acres and the other 7.3 acres--and a senior citizens center. It also would set aside land for a school and a 7-acre civic center. The plan guarantees up to $3 million worth of park improvements for the city and a storm drain system beneath the Shorecliffs Golf Course.
It also guarantees the dropping of a $100-million lawsuit filed by Estrella in 1986 against the city's successful slow-growth initiative, which restricts development to 500 homes per year.
"We may not have solved the problem of how to develop the city tonight, but we've certainly made progress in a problem that has been festering in this city for a long time," Mayor Brian J. Rice said.
Centex, a Dallas-based company and one of the major home builders in the country, approached city officials last October with its offer to buy the Forster Ranch but needed assurances in writing that development would be eligible to apply for some of the annual 500-home allocations. Wednesday's vote was that assurance.
This year, the company has applied to build 242 homes on the Forster Ranch. It is competing for the total allocations with seven other developers.
The council will vote on final approval of the Centex plan at its Feb. 27 meeting. At that same meeting, the council will also allocate the number of housing units each developer will be allowed to build.
After the council's second reading Centex will have until March 31 to exercise its option on the ranch property in the northeastern part of the city.