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3rd Park for Disney Has Riled Residents

Development: Anaheim homeowners, seeking more data, will ask the City Council to delay the planning process.

July 09, 2001|KIMI YOSHINO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Fearing that Anaheim officials will vote blank-check approval for a third, unspecified Disney theme park, local homeowners will ask the City Council on Tuesday to delay planning until more about the project is revealed.

City staff are researching the environmental impact of the park and their report is due this summer. In May, the Planning Commission gave the Walt Disney Co. the go-ahead to "initiate the application process" for a new theme park.

So far, it's all procedural but some homeowners say the city is putting the cart before the horse by approving Disney requests to begin proceedings and studying impacts without knowing any of the details.

"The tactic is not to let the public know what it's going to be in order to restrict objections to it," said Jim Anderson, spokesman for the Homeowners for Maintaining Their Environment neighborhood group. "Let's find out first what it is and then go from there."

The group has bought ads in the city's weekly newspaper, including one last week.

"Which Anaheim City Council members represent the voters of Anaheim?" the ad asks. "Which represents only the Disney Corporation? . . . At their scheduled meeting, the Anaheim City Council will vote to give the Disney Corporation initial approval to build a third theme park (78 acres) without knowing what it will be."

City officials say the neighborhood group is acting prematurely too.

"We've never seen one of these before where someone appeals a notice of preparation," said Deputy City Manager Tom Wood. "It seems illogical."

Disney officials said they have not decided what to build, though they have lobbed ideas such as a water park, more hotels and a shopping and entertainment center into the discussion.

Ed Chuchla, director of development for Walt Disney Imagineering, stressed that no decisions will be made without public input.

"This initiation process is about bringing the public into the loop," Chuchla said, adding that there will be "piles of public reviews and countless public meetings" once the environmental impact report is complete and Disney has formalized its plans.

But even the idea of a third theme park has homeowners leery about parking and traffic.

"We think it's premature to think about a third park until you see the consequences of the second," Anderson said. "We don't think the infrastructure can handle any more traffic."

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