While projects combining businesses and housing in multi-story buildings have become more popular in the area, Mission Viejo planning officials say this type of “mixed-use” development does not fit the identity of the town. community.
A developer interested in replacing the Garden Plaza with a five-story, 234-unit apartment complex above a Whole Foods and other small stores or restaurants, needs the city to add a new mixed-use area to the types of land uses permitted to Mission Viejo so that it can then seek approval for its project. On Monday evening, planning commissioners said they did not think the mixed-use zone would be a good addition to the town’s development options, a recommendation which is now being forwarded to the city council.
The Planning Commission “essentially said that the proposed change to the city’s zoning code did not fit the general character of this city,” a city press release said.
Developer ValueRock’s proposed project has received widespread criticism from community members, although it is still very early in the review process with the city. Since the question of the land use area had to be answered first before considering development, the city council recently decided to address this element now.
Staff members in a report to the Planning Commission said the new zoning district requested by the developer “does not appear to satisfy the preservation aspects of community design, city-wide”, adding that ” the apparent risk of disrupting community identity is too great, in the absence of any evidence of mitigation.
In response to the commission’s decision, ValueRock Director of Development Patrick Cox said in a statement, “We do not oppose the City of Mission Viejo Planning and Transportation Commission’s vote to reject our Mixed Use Zoning District RFP.
“We will take this time to pause and reassess the details of the project so that we can address the concerns of neighbors, while maintaining the key aspects of our proposal that have been adopted,” she said.
Company officials have previously said the project will bring much-needed housing and shops to the aging corner. They also predicted economic benefits for the city in the form of tax revenue and additional jobs. But some residents worry that a new mixed-use zoning district could lead to greater density throughout the city, and increased traffic resulting from this proposal could further clog the already busy corridor.
City council is expected to consider the planning commission’s recommendation at a May 10 meeting.