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COAST, CENTRAL, AND NORTHWEST CITIES : BUENA PARK

Metrolink 'Transit Village' Plan Advances

Despite neighbors' fears of added noise and traffic, City Council approves the train station's environmental study.

August 24, 2000|ANDRE BRISCOE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Plans for a Metrolink commuter train station at Dale Street and Malvern Avenue in Buena Park came closer to reality Tuesday evening when the City Council approved an environmental impact report by a private consulting company.

The council also approved a General Plan amendment that would allow the building of 90 low-to-moderate-income townhomes near the station for use by Cal State Fullerton faculty members. Such a combination of housing and a train station is known as a transit village.

The project calls for the city to buy land owned by the Orange County Flood Control District using federal and state grants. The cost of the project is estimated at $6 million.

The council moved forward with the 14-acre project despite protests from residents living near the site, who say it would cause excessive noise and increase crime in the area, thus decreasing property values.

"I really believe they had already made up their minds before the hearing started," Craig Moulton said. "They're putting the needs of 200 potential commuters over the needs of 1,400 city residents."

Moulton's sentiments were echoed by many who packed the council chamber, including Councilwoman Patsy Marshall, who abstained from voting on the issue because she lives within 2,500 feet of the proposed transit village site.

Instead Marshall challenged the EIR findings that train traffic and vehicle traffic in the area would not increase.

"Summertree [housing development] was built in 1973, and train traffic has increased dramatically since then. Why should we think it will decrease?" Marshall asked. "I believe we're rushing into this. We can't do anything about the trains currently in use, but we can do something about this project."

But other council members, including Mayor Steve Berry, caught off guard by opposition from the audience, insisted that the project will help the city by having state-mandated affordable housing built at little cost to the city. Much of the housing funds would come from the state and federal grants.

Berry also challenged residents who said that no one in the city wants the transit village. He said he has spoken to residents who favor the village.

"A time will come in the near future when we will form an ad hoc committee to look into sound level and quality of life issues for residents," Berry said. "But right now we are only looking at the environmental issue. That is our duty today. It's very narrow."

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Andre Briscoe can be reached at (714) 966-5848.

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