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Plans cause stir

January 26, 2012|By Bryce Alderton

In a humorous remark near the end of Tuesday night's Newport Beach City Council meeting, Councilman Ed Selich summed up best the decision-making process for the Newport Beach Country Club property.

"Now I know what they mean in Congress when they say, 'Making laws is like making sausage; it aint pretty,'" said Selich, who served three terms as chair of the city's Planning Commission. "I have never seen a situation like this."

By 6-1 votes on each of two agenda items, the council decided: to move ahead with a plan for a new 56,000 square foot golf clubhouse from Newport Beach Country Club Inc. (the tenant), and a proposal from Golf Realty Fund (the land owner) to revamp the tennis club, add 27 one-story bungalows, five single-family homes, and a 7,490 square-foot spa and fitness center. Golf Realty Fund's plan calls for removing 17 of the private club's 24 courts to make room for the bungalows. Mayor Nancy Gardner dissented on both motions.

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The council sifted through nearly a dozen speakers during public comments, and considered issues such as the existing frontage road with neighbor Armstrong Garden Center and arbitration involving one of the parties, before making its decisions.

Development agreements for both proposals require second approvals, scheduled for Feb. 14. The proposals would then move to the California Coastal Commission for review.

The council approved NBCC Inc.'s plan, which maintains the frontage road with Armstrong (though makes it one way) and includes a remodeled parking lot, despite resistance from Irvine Terrace residents. Two speakers said events such as the Toshiba Classic golf tournament each March generate unwanted traffic in their neighborhood and were worried about increased guests attending banquet functions at the club throughout the year. David Wooten, president and chief executive of the club, has said the club has room to accommodate three or four more tournaments throughout the year.

Gardner said that removing the tennis courts and inserting the bungalows would simply transfer traffic from one use to another.

Robert O Hill, the property's co-owner, planned for a 35,000 square foot golf clubhouse as part of his proposal.

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