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Orange County

Housing Project's Foes Aim for Ballot

Measure would reverse Orange's approval of 183 homes near a dam and methane-leaking dump. Developer says opponents in minority.

September 17, 2003|Dan Weikel | Times Staff Writer

Activists in Orange have launched a referendum campaign to reverse City Council approval of a controversial housing development near Villa Park Dam and a closed county dump that leaks methane gas.

The proposed ballot measure targets a plan by Fieldstone Communities Inc. to build 183 homes on 110 acres off Santiago Canyon Road in east Orange. The City Council approved the project on a 3-2 vote Sept. 9.

"This property was never planned for residential use because of its condition and location," said Shirley Grindle, a longtime community activist who is helping to organize the referendum drive. "We, the citizens, are fed up with the city of Orange giving away our open space to developers."

The measure will ask voters to nullify the city general plan amendment that clears the way for Fieldstone to develop the site, designate the property as a community park, set aside part of the land as a school site and preserve nearby Santiago Creek and its banks as open space.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday September 23, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 53 words Type of Material: Correction
Housing plan -- An article in Wednesday's California section incorrectly reported that opponents of a proposed housing development in Orange are gathering signatures for a ballot measure that would challenge City Council approval of the project. The group plans to gather signatures after Wednesday, the day the council decision is to be finalized.

The measure's sponsors contend that the Villa Park Dam, flooding and erosion from Santiago Creek, and potentially explosive methane gas from the former Villa Park Refuse Disposal Station present serious risks for homeowners.

They also say the site has long been designated as open space and should be used for a park with sports fields and equestrian facilities.

Supporters of the development say the chance of flooding or dam failure is remote and that measures are planned to protect homes from methane gas. In addition, Fieldstone has promised to provide a 6-acre park, a 7-acre equestrian center and 40 acres of open space with trails for bicyclists and horse riders.

Steve Cameron, president of the company's Orange County division, has denounced the campaign as an attempt by a small, unrepresentative group to defeat a development that will provide substantial benefit to the community.

Named Orange Citizens for Parks and Schools, the group must gather 5,770 signatures of registered voters by Oct. 23 to qualify the referendum for the March election. Signature gathering began last weekend.

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