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Orange County

Effort Advances to Stop Garden Grove Homes

August 08, 2003|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

A Garden Grove group appears to have gathered more than enough signatures to force a referendum on a proposed high-end housing development near Gilbert Street.

"We are very pleased," said Steve Raganold, who, on behalf of the Central Garden Grove Neighborhood Assn., submitted more than 8,600 signatures -- about 2,200 more than required -- to the city clerk's office Thursday afternoon. "It's a little unfortunate," he said, "that we had to go this far."

City Clerk Ruth Smith confirmed receipt of the petitions, but said the Orange County registrar of voters has 30 days to verify the signatures. Once that happens, she said, the City Council will have the option of rescinding its approval of the project, or scheduling a citywide vote on the issue next year.

Hanging in the balance is the planned construction of 14 four-bedroom homes by Brandywine Development Corp. on 2.7 acres near Gilbert Street and Lampson Avenue, an older neighborhood of ranch homes with large backyards filled with mature magnolia, eucalyptus and orange trees. The proposed houses, developers say, would range from 3,200 to 3,400 square feet and sell for about $700,000.

"They're not compatible with the existing neighborhood," said Raganold, who has previously described the area as "middle-class folks" interested in maintaining its character. "This is a 1950s-era neighborhood with single stories and fairly large lots," he said. "The planned development is distinctly different from the existing neighborhood."

James Barisic, Brandywine's president, could not be reached for comment.

But Mayor Bruce Broadwater, who has strongly favored the development, said he was disinclined to push it to a citywide vote.

"I can't see wasting the taxpayers' money by going on with this forever," he said. "I'm the mayor of the city -- win, lose or draw -- and sometimes it's my job to heal the wounds."

At least one councilman expressed hope that a compromise could be reached. "The city should be in a position to facilitate that process," Van Tran said. "Depending on the flexibility of both parties, we can work on the number [of houses] and their configuration."

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