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By Andrea Swayne

The Dana Point Planning Commission heard a presentation for a new development project proposed for the Town Center-Lantern District and continued discussion on another for which a public hearing has been open since July.

The older of the two—a plan proposed by Majestic Housing and Development and calling for the construction of 30,000 square feet of retail space and 111 residential units on seven lots—was brought back for a third time, after discussion was continued at the last Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 11.

Majestic representative Peggy Tabbas addressed concerns raised at the previous meeting. Among the issues addressed and added to the plan were dedicated, off-street loading/unloading and trash pickup zones that would not interfere with parking. She also presented new plans for increased public courtyards and changes to building aesthetics.

Aesthetic changes included more landscaping in the form of climbing vines and trees, warmer colors, Spanish/Mediterranean styling for one of the project’s buildings and wall art she called similar to the tile murals found on the pedestrian gateway bridge at PCH near Dana Point Harbor Drive.

Although Majestic’s requested height variance for the buildings was removed, their request for a variance to allow four stories remains. A height variance to accommodate elevator shafts that Commissioner Norm Denton said must be addressed, was not discussed.

Resident Debra Lewis expressed continued frustration with the short time story poles were erected for public review and said she remains concerned that the project may block ocean views.

Resident Trent Hofferber echoed a handful of residents, who expressed consternation with Majestic’s continued pursuit of variances.

The new proposal for a GTR Property Development project at Golden Lantern and PCH calls for just over 9,800 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 35,370 square feet of residential space with 39 residential rental units.

GTR’s George Ray told commissioners his project asks for two variances, “one that they want and one that they need.”

The first is a requested curb cut to accommodate entry into the project’s underground parking via a right turn from PCH. The second is a variance to allow for four stories due to constraints on the construction of the project’s three levels of subterranean parking, below three residential levels.

City building code dictates that in order to be considered a basement instead of a story, the top level of parking may be only 4 feet above ground. The plan calls for the level to be 6 feet above ground, therefore making it technically considered a story. It is not architecturally possible to simply dig 2 feet deeper, Ray said.

Commissioner April O’Connor said although both applicants’ projects now fall within the height limits, the developers are finding difficulty with the Town Center Plan definition of “stories”—as well as problems with parking guidelines—which may have to do with the wording of the document as it was prepared well before it could be applied to any practical projects. She encouraged both companies to design projects that don’t need variances but said that the Town Center Plan wording is something the city will have to figure out how to approach.

The public hearing was continued to the commission’s next meeting scheduled for Sept. 22, 6 p.m. at the Dana Point Community Center, 34052 Del Obispo St.

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