Irvine-based Melia Homes was given the go-ahead to build 54 condominiums in a controversial development to replace a shuttered Mormon church in Santa Fe Springs.
The Santa Fe Springs City Council voted to approve zoning and general plan changes allowing the multiple-residential development to move forward at 11733 Florence Ave., the Whittier Daily News reported.
The unanimous vote came despite 180 signatures from opposing homeowners who said they wanted single-family homes built on the three-acre site. The project calls for razing a vacant 18,000 square-foot church and replacing it with 11 buildings containing condominiums.
Santa Fe Springs Councilman Jay Sarno said it wasn’t easy to vote against what residents wanted.
“But we have to realize we are trying to do what’s best for our community as a whole,” Sarno said. “This isn’t easy for us. It just means we have a difference of opinion on where we should head.”
Melia Homes responded to residents by making several changes to make the development a better fit.
It whittled down the number of units from 63 to 54, and opted to put only two-story units, instead of three, on its western side. The developer also increased the number of open parking spots — each unit will have separate a two-car garage — from 22 spaces to 34.
Chad Brown, vice president for planning and development for Melia, said the project is compatible with the area, with two apartment complexes nearby.
Mayor Annette Rodriguez said the city approved the condominiums because they were a good project.
“It will bring new housing options to the City, which is important to our residents,” she said in an email to the newspaper.
Wayne Morrell, director of planning and community development, said few single-family residential projects are being built today.
“You need to go to the Inland Empire or have a large amount of land,” he said.
The opposing neighbors would have none of it. They cited more traffic, collisions and pollution as a result of the high-density condominium project,
Irma Huitron said she plans to go to the next meeting when the zone change must go through a second reading and ask council members to give the reason for their votes.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to say no to a developer,” Huitron said. “Being like every other city is easy. Being different is difficult. Think about how these three acres can be used. All we say yes to are townhomes, condominiums, and apartments. There is no land being set aside for low-density housing.”
[WDN] – Dana Bartholomew