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Orange County

Panel Postpones Marblehead Hearing

Development: Lusk Co. wants time to respond to a critical report on the San Clemente project.


The California Coastal Commission has granted a request by the developer of the Marblehead bluffs in San Clemente to delay a hearing on the project until the company can respond to a critical report by the agency's staff, commission officials said Thursday.

The agency was scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday on the Lusk Co.'s proposal to build on 250 acres of sandstone bluffs marked by deep canyons and expanses of coastal sage-scrub. Now the hearing on whether to allow 351 homes and 671,506 square feet of shops, restaurants and other businesses on the site--once the proposed home of the Nixon Library--will be postponed.

Peter M. Douglas, executive director of the Coastal Commission, said Lusk officials asked for a postponement until they can respond to the report released late last week.

Jim Johnson, Lusk chief executive, did not return several calls seeking comment on the request or on the commission staff's findings.

The report said the revised Marblehead plan was improved over one that commission members were poised to veto last year. Grading of the site was reduced by a third to nearly 2.5 million cubic yards, fewer homes were planned, and the amount of land to be set aside as open space was increased to 77 acres from 58 acres. The square footage of commercial development planned for 22 acres of the property has been decreased; however, the density of shops and businesses clustered nearest the ocean has nearly doubled to 141,506 square feet.

Commission staff scientists concluded that the downsized project still would harm coastal canyons, sensitive habitats and rare plants and animals found on the property, one of the last large undeveloped coastal portions of Southern California.

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