Much-debated Fountain Valley Crossings project in the homestretch – Orange County Register

The Ellis Ave., 405 Euclid St. exit in Fountain Valley drops drivers off in an industrial area. The city hopes to add higher-end housing, retail and entertainment. The Fountain Valley Crossings Specific Plan’s goal is to attract sales and property taxes. /CINDY YAMANAKA, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

It’s back. The highly anticipated and heavily argued Fountain Valley Crossings plan returns to the City Council in the next two weeks, with a decisive vote expected as early as Jan. 23.

The plan, which would free zoning for about 160 acres of industrial land to allow office, entertainment and housing in the southeast area of the city, has been discussed, debated and delayed since it was formally unveiled in July 2016.

Bounded by the Santa Ana River and Ward Street, and Talbert and Ellis avenues, the Crossings is home to businesses, such as furniture stores and manufacturing, that require large plots of land. The area is also notable for areas with chain-link fencing topped with razor wire and is described as “underutilized” in consultant reports.

By lifting zoning restrictions and streamlining processes, city leaders say land owners and developers would be free to build retail, entertainment and housing and remove blight. A major component is an “activity core,” with a concentration of restaurant, retail and entertainment businesses and a “main street experience” that designers say the city lacks. The area would also include multi-unit housing.

Opponents have expressed concerns about overcrowding, traffic gridlock and parking woes. They also say they fear a loss of local control over development and that reports on the effects of the project are woefully deficient and may be subject to legal challenge.

For the project to go forward, it requires City Council approval of a report on the project’s impact on the environment, as well as a “specific plan,” which lays out the details of the project and requirements for development and building.

The Crossings plan, which already has received support from the Planning Commission, was scheduled to go before the council in June 2017, before Matt Mogenson, the city’s director of planning and building, asked to suspend consideration of the plan to allow for revisions and to give the public more time to review the document.

On Tuesday, Jan. 16, a study session is scheduled in City Council Chambers in advance of the council’s regular 6 p.m. meeting. The time is still to be determined.

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