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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS

Orange

November 16, 1998|Lesley Wright, (714) 966-7824

City officials have settled a lawsuit filed in May by the Old Towne Preservation Assn. over a controversial renovation of the downtown plaza.

As part of the settlement, the city will hire an independent preservation expert to help draft a new plan for the make-over. In return, the association dropped its lawsuit and ceased fighting the installation of new light fixtures in Old Towne.

The dispute started when City Council members voted to expand the sidewalk areas around the circle to allow for outside dining and safer traffic patterns. They also agreed to remove pine trees, which merchants said were drippy and messy, and replace them with palm trees.

That ignited a firestorm among pine tree lovers. The association objected because it said the council had left unresolved how to handle the park that sits inside the circle. The association contended "piecemeal planning" could harm the entire look of the plaza and endanger its status on the National Register of Historic Places.

Residents can attend two meetings to learn more about the plaza plans. A community meeting will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Center, 170 S. Olive St. The council and the Planning Commission also will hold a workshop at 5 p.m. Dec. 2 in the council chambers of City Hall, 300 E. Chapman Ave. This meeting will be broadcast on Channel 3.

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