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Traffic Fears Threaten Cottonwood Agreement

June 16, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

After months of negotiations culminating in what appeared to be a workable compromise, Cypress announced Tuesday that it had reached an impasse with neighboring Los Alamitos on an agreement to move a church and build its first superstore.

Cypress' news release blames the stall on Los Alamitos' "refusal" to allow balance on traffic issues.

At stake is the proposed construction of a Costco store at -- and relocation of the Cottonwood Christian Center to -- sites off Katella Avenue in Cypress.

The plan is the latest attempt to settle a dispute that began in 1999 when Cottonwood, now in Los Alamitos, bought 18 acres near Walker Street in Cypress with the intention of building a 4,700-seat sanctuary, preschool, bookstore, coffeehouse, meeting facilities and youth center.

The city rejected that plan, however, arguing that it needed the site for a superstore, later identified as a Costco, and the church filed a lawsuit charging religious discrimination.

Cottonwood eventually agreed to sell its land to Cypress at a profit, in exchange for the right to buy and build on a portion of the nearby Cypress Golf Course. But adjacent Los Alamitos challenged the arrangement in court, saying it would create traffic problems.

The issue in the current impasse is whether northbound traffic on Lexington Drive, which traverses both cities, should be diverted east and west onto Cerritos Avenue: Cypress says yes, Los Alamitos says no.

The impasse could delay completion of the superstore, originally expected to open by November and anticipated to generate about $1 million annually in property- and sales-tax revenue. Both sides, however, say they plan to meet again soon.

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