Thirty-one year resident, Rosie Garcia, says she has spent most of her time raising a family, however, she did find a few moments to attend the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday to hear about a new senior living development.
Up for talks was the 225-unit retirement and assisted living community, Crestavilla, to be constructed at Niguel Road and Crown Valley Parkway, on the same property as the oldest church in Laguna Niguel, Shepherd of the Hills.
The Commission unanimously approved the project to be developed by Flintridge Partners based in Irvine. The new building will have between two and four stories, and about 211,000 square feet.
Located at 30111 Niguel Road, it will offer luxury amenities including restaurants, a spa and theaters, a spiritual resource center, allowing Shepherd of the Hills Church, also a partner in the project, to continue its ministry at the location. Of the 11.5 acre lot, 7.2 acres will remain hillside open space, aid he developer.
Partner Marlon Fenton of Flintridge, said the $61 million development is "much needed in Laguna Niguel."
"We decided on Laguna Niguel because it is an area that definitely needs this type of facility for seniors," Fenton said. "For the last two months, we have conducted community outreach in Laguna Niguel and have received tremendous support-- about 1,000 people are in support of the project. One of our partners has been a resident for 26 years and we want to make this project succesful for everyone."
Prior to the meeting, the developer held a dinner/event for about 150 supporters. They were dropped off at City Hall via chartered bus to attend the Planning Commission meeting, Fenton said.
"We did it mostly out of convenience for the people because we didn't want to fill up the parking lot at City Hall," he said. "Plus, 150 is a lot of people."
Garcia said she felt "the whole thing was staged."
She and other residents who reside near the project have said they are concerned about the potential noise and traffic.
Dan Fox, community development director said in response to residents' concerns about the geological impacts of excavating at the foot of the hill to build a two-story subterranean parking garage, the commission has required developers to monitor any potential land movement on a weekly basis. Fenton said construction would not put hillside homes at risk.
Fox said additionally, the Commission limited commercial deliveries to between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. He also said to allow for safe left turns out of the development, a traffic signal will be installed at its entrance on Niguel Road, southeast of Crown Valley Parkway.
"I felt very embarrassed that our city was targeted by this big developer by bringing a busload to take up almost all of the seats in the Council chambers," Garcia said.
She further said she was worried about potential traffic in the area.
"Even though there should not be heavy traffic in and out of this place, there still would be some elderly people turning in and out, causing traffic to back up onto Crown Valley Parkway, along with having a red light right there - that could really make traffic difficult," she said.
Garcia said she believes a smaller version might fit better in the city.
"The Planning Commission ultimately approved the project recognizing that this will be a quality development project that is probably one of the least traffic intensive developments that could be proposed for the site," Fox said. "The current commercial zoning could accommodate a wide variety of retail, restaurant, auto service and offices uses. The project does not propose to cut into the open space slope and construct large retaining walls as past approval have proposed, which was a previous concern from the surrounding residents."
Fenton said the project could be completed by 2014.