Thursday, January 12, 2006
Panel rejects housing near airport
By Andrea Feathers
The Redlands (CA) Daily Facts
REDLANDS – Worried that approval could give the controversial Walton development “its foot in the door,” the Planning Commission denied another airport area development Tuesday by a vote of 5 to 1. The denial came despite a recommendation from the Airport Advisory Board that the 26-unit Ryland Homes project qualifies as an infill project because it is bounded on three sides by existing developments. The original Ryland Homes tract – labeled “the mistake” by some planning commissioners – is directly to the east and closer to the Redlands Municipal Airport on San Bernardino Avenue.
“I’m not against the project,” said Vice Chairman James Macdonald, who suggested a unanimous denial. “I’m just against the location and the timing, given the state of the master plan.”
Development proposals like Walton and Ryland Homes have prompted city officials to begin the process of updating the airport master plan and the airport land use compatibility plan to reevaluate the goals of the airport and what land uses are appropriate in its vicinity.
Airport advocates have argued that building housing too close to the airport could ultimately generate noise complaints, lawsuits and operations restrictions that would stymie its economic viability. Developers emphasize that housing is allowed in the compatibility plan, which was changed in 2003 to accommodate the sports park at San Bernardino and Wabash avenues.
“Our basis for a decision, whether it’s approval or denial, should be based upon accurate and current information,” said Commissioner Gary Miller.
Scott McCann, the vice president of planning for Ryland Homes, argued that the development should be considered on its own merits and asked for a final decision.
“We feel that our project clearly falls within the infill guidelines of the airport land use plan,” he said.
The development would use 10 acres north of San Bernardino Avenue, south of Pioneer Avenue and east of Hanford Street to build 26 homes in the southern portion of land south of the B2 line. The 2.4-acre area on the north end of the site would be developed as a small park with orange trees and recreational open space.
John James, representing the Airport Advisory Board, said he feels the project meets two of the three infill requirements. The project fails to meet the third requirement because it uses a density transfer to calculate the number of homes allowed.
Thomas Osborne was the only commissioner to oppose denial.
“I can agree with the decision of the Airport Advisory Board that this is an infill project,” he said.
Work on the updates to the master plan and land use compatibility plan could begin after a consultant is selected this month.
“I think we ought to clear the bridge here and deny this and wait until the master plan is developed,” said Chairman George Webber, “then let the developers come forward under the new rules.”
Editor’s Note: The Airport Advisory Board and the City of Redlands are to be congratulated on their forward thinking regarding this issue. By facing the situation now, they have taken steps to avoid larger issues later should the development plan have been allowed to proceed in violation of the airport land use guidelines.