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Project promises to be hot topic

Proposed development would add 120 residential units to the Rancho District.

November 29, 2011|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

A 120-unit residential project proposed for the former General Motors training site in the Rancho District is expected to be a hot topic during a community Wednesday night.

While the focus of the meeting is to discuss the neighborhood’s future as a whole and the Rancho Master Plan, Assistant Community Development Director Michael Forbes acknowledged it may be difficult to keep the meeting on track.

The proposed project from developer New Urban West includes 15 buildings with a total of 120 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The site covers roughly five acres, according to the city.

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In a neighborhood that successfully fought against a Whole Foods Market, the large scale residential project is almost sure to dominate the meeting.

“We’re not going to be able to avoid it, and frankly, we shouldn’t,” Forbes said, but noted the project is on a “separate track.”

New Urban West had a right to have its project looked at fairly, he added. The city process for that review and public input will be discussed at the meeting.

Already, the City Council has authorized a consultant to begin environmental review of the site.

Council members also took the unusual step of asking city officials to share the results of the environmental review with them, Forbes said.

Usually, city planners determine if an Environmental Impact Review is needed, or if any impacts from the development can be mitigated, he said. In this case, the City Council will be making that decision.

The initial review could be ready by March, Forbes said.

Tom Zanic, senior vice president of New Urban West, said the intent of the meeting was not to discuss the development, rather the Rancho Master Plan and general plans for future development in the area.

He added that the company was “new in town,” and planned to follow the proper procedures.

“Whatever review is appropriate as decided by the city, we’re happy to support,” Zanic said.

New Urban West submitted its development application to the city in June.

The community meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Buena Vista Library, in the Community Room, 300 N. Buena Vista Street.

For more information, contact Forbes at (818) 238-5250 or mforbes@ci.burbank.ca.us.
 
 

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