It's been more than eight years of discussion and debate. Now the proposed Mission Viejo dog park has only one vote separating it from approval after the Planning Commission approved the site's design Monday night in a 3-1 vote.
The site would require 45,000 cubic feet of costly grading, according to environmental assessments.
The park proposed south of Gilleran Park would add about 200 trips to local roads and would require a minimum of 42 parking spaces, city staff estimates. Wildlife noise and neighborhood noise levels are not expected to be impacted much, according to those estimates.
Potential odor issues from pet waste would be controlled by daily emptying of trash receptacles and a weekly poop pickup service, staff said. One resident was concerned dog droppings could draw predators. Assistant City Manager Keith Rattay said he would ask Laguna Beach officials if this has been a problem at their dog park, which abuts a wildlife area.
Planning Manager Elaine Lister said landslide concerns to the east and downhill from the proposed site turned out to be less worrisome than originally thought following soil testing. She said the hillside "is stable under static conditions."
Lister said the city received 49 e-mails about the dog park plan. She said all but three were in favor of the design.
As part of the proposed project sits on two acres of county property, the city would be required to swap land with the county to build the dog park. This raised concerns for Commission Chair Rick Sandzimier.
He said the proposed swap, which would give Mission Viejo about two acres in exchange for about seven acres near a wilderness trail, might harm future city plans for the swapped space. Staff told him the land is protected from development and would be used for more trails.
Sandzimier said he was still concerned about strong language warning of landslides in the site's geotechnical proposal. Aaron Taylor, who served as a geotechnical consultant, said the language is standard and used to warn contractors that steps would be required to stabilize the hills before work is finished.
About 50 people attended the meeting, and several shared their thoughts with the commission. One homeowner was concerned about the noise brought by more cars in the area. Several dog owners praised the design of the project. One resident said the project would be a waste of money.
Rattay described the project as "not an easy site, but... one that appears to be doable."