Vote signs off despite regulators’ concerns that proposed 176-house neighborhood and store will be too close to city’s airport.
By Doug Irving
Hawthorne signed off this week on plans to build an entirely new neighborhood of high-end homes alongside the municipal airport, waving off concerns that runways and residents don’t mix. The homes and a new Target megastore will replace an abandoned research center just east of the airport’s runway, almost under the flight path of arriving planes. City leaders have praised the project as a way to bring new homeowners into the city and to recycle a patch of blighted land.
But some aviation officials have questioned whether those homeowners will put up with planes humming over their roofs. A county commission opposed the project because a corner of the Target store will jut into a special zone intended to limit development near the runway.
Hawthorne’s City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday to override that opposition and let the project proceed. The decision came with little discussion and no debate, but after seven residents had taken turns applauding the project as an upgrade for the city. “This is going to bring so much class” to the neighborhood, said Darlene Love, who lives close to the project site.
Plans for the project, called “Central Park,” show a gated neighborhood of 176 houses with private yards, landscaped walkways and a community pool. The least expensive of the homes will likely sell for about half a million dollars.
But it was the Target store that caught the attention of the county commission, which reviews developments around airports, and other regulators. The state Department of Transportation warned in a letter that the store “creates a new safety problem” by encroaching on the runway’s protection zone.
City leaders, though, noted that the small airport is already surrounded by buildings, and that only a small part of the Target store intrudes on the runway zone. They concluded that the “overriding benefits” of the project outweigh the issues raised by its proximity to the airport, as well as concerns about traffic and the added strain on city services.
Councilman Gary Parsons, who had cast the lone vote against the project at an earlier meeting, was out of town Tuesday and did not participate in the final vote.