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Keep tabs on NBC project's impact

January 29, 2011

With the inertia of a 400-acre NBC Universal development pushing potential traffic and woes ever closer to Burbank's boundaries, the City Council officially lodged its concerns this week for an important environmental impact report.

The massive Universal City project that will abut west Burbank will include 2 million square feet of commercial space, 500 hotel rooms and 2,937 residential units — and is scheduled to be completed by 2030.

That's more than a decade of construction and a gradual but significant influx of vehicles on Burbank streets. Burbank has prided itself in maintaining its small-town vibe and an adequate infrastructure to boot, but that could all be for naught if NBC isn't required to pay for the impact of its so-called Evolution Plan.

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There are already indications that NBC is taking a conservative approach to the development's potential impact, contending that the majority of the residents and employees will be using public transit links, and that only Olive Avenue at the Warner Bros. Studio Gate 2 and 3 intersection will be significantly affected.

Fat chance.

And what of the impacts to our fire and police departments and other public services?

The City Council's official input in the environmental report is a good first step, but as with any major project with high-octane money at its back, it will take constant prodding to alter its course. Otherwise, this "evolution plan" may end up producing some major headaches for future generations.

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