Highland Council Rejects Project Approval Challenge

The Highland City Council this week denied an appeal by residents on Aplin Street and North Fork Road of the planning commission’s approval of Diversified Pacific’s 70-residential unit Orchard project on roughly 27 acres south of Water Street between Aplin Street and North Fork Road.
The planning commission approved the project in June.
The project site currently contains remnants of an orange grove, an abandoned single-family residence, an occupied single-family residence and small accessory structures typical of single-family residential use.
Represented by an attorney. the appellants requested that Aplin Street not be completed through to Water Street, that a stop sign be installed on Aplin Street to control traffic, that the planned elevation of the new homes be changed to keep from obstructing the views from the existing residences. They further asserted the project had not been properly examined for traffic and environmental concerns.
City staff, however, offered its conclusion that the objections and voiced concerns were sufficient to derail the project.
Residents on Aplin Street, which ends in a cul-de-sac, asked that the cul-de-sac remain in place. Staff, however, said this request should be denied because, “The existing cul-de-sac on Aplin Street was designed and constructed as a temporary cul-de-sac.”
Another concern related to the hazard an increase in traffic represented to children attending nearby Cram Elementary School.
Staff, however, in a report to the council, stated that Diversified Pacific “met directives related to traffic calming on Aplin Street provided by the planning commission. “
The appellants noted that a condition for the completion of the project required Diversified Pacific to construct a 12-foot wide community trail on Aplin Street. Residents of the new tract will be required, the appellants said, “to back over the trail to get onto Aplin Street,” which the appellants said would be “a safety issue to people walking on the trail.” Staff responded by saying the trail would be constructed “in accordance with city trail standards. Typical to all residential areas throughout the city, residents
are required to back their vehicles across sidewalks to access the streets
fronting their homes. Both the motorists and the pedestrians are expected to exercise appropriate caution where the driveways cross the sidewalks. The proposed trail on Aplin Street is similar to a sidewalk and the same caution is expected.”
Staff said some burrowing owls did inhabit the project site and that Diversified Pacific would be required to relocate the birds if their nests were disturbed.
After considering the appeal by the residents, the city council upheld the planning commission approval, endorsing a staff finding that “The 71 lots meet all of the minimum size and dimension requirements specified within the Highland Municipal Code. The lots range in size from 10,000 square feet to 20,863 square feet with an overall density of 2.61 dwelling units per acre.”
Any further issues with regard to the design process for the project will be hashed out at future planning commission meetings, staff assured the council.

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