Amid the outcry from some residents opposed to the plan, the Diamond Bar Planning Commission Tuesday night voted 5-0 to approve a vesting tentative tract map to subdivide the land into 63 lots for the development of 182 homes and a minimum two-acre neighborhood park. Lennar Homes, the developers of the project dubbed Willow Heights, plans to build the park at 4.7 acres, according to staff.
Also approved after the two-and-a half-hour public hearing were architectural and landscape plans for the land and a permit to remove 83 existing trees and replace them with 249 others.
Residents opposed to the development said they didn't want any more homes squeezed into Diamond Bar. Others said they had concerns about the project adding traffic to an already snarled Diamond Bar Boulevard.
“Our neighborhood can’t take these extra people," said Darci Gunter. "I am really upset that nobody is listening to the neighborhood and we just care about the cash dollar.”
Commissioner Ashok Dhingra said that traffic is a problem for reasons not related to the project.
“I will say that traffic is an issue but an issue not because of this development," he said. "It’s an issue because of people using DB Blvd as an alternative to the 57.”
Commissioners encouraged residents worried about traffic to take their concerns about how this project might affect Diamond Bar Boulevard and their existing neighborhoods to the city's Traffic and Transportation Commission.
Community Development Director Greg Gubman said the city has had four workshops related to the project and noticed residents near the property as required.
Gubman and the commissioners emphasized to residents that the site plan already had been approved by the City Council. The action the commissioners were asked to take was very narrow in focus, they said.
"Your focus would be to review for conformance with specific plan," Gubman said. "If it is in conformance with what City Council already approved, then your decision is to make the recommendation based on this plan’s conformance with goals, vision, and criteria in that adopted specific plan."
That frustrated some homeowners.
“Why are we here," said Nate Prokop. "If you have to approve what the City Council approved, then why are we here? I am tired of sitting on Diamond Bar Boulavard in all the traffic, and you approved 200 more homes.”Most of Site D, 28.7 acres, is owned by the Walnut Valley Unified School District. Adjacent to it is a .93 acre piece of property the city of Diamond Bar owns. The entire site is in escrow with Lennar Homes.
The plans for development call for the construction of 62 townhomes, 73 detached two-story single-family condos, and 47 single family homes, said Senior Planner Grace Lee.
The conceptual park plan includes a 3.8 acre rain garden, a walking trail, a pedestrian bridge, and entry feature, and trail head parking, she said.
Jeff Smith, a Lennar Homes representative, said crews are expected to break ground on the project in January, with model homes up by fall of 2014.
“The homes offer a diverse range of housing types for the city," Smith said. "They are going to meet a broad range of lifestyles.”