Newport to Waive Public Notice Policy for Appointment

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As the proposed Banning Ranch development moves toward a review by the Newport Beach Planning Commission, the unexpected resignation of Chairman Charles Unsworth has lead the City Council to schedule a vote Tuesday on waiving its public notice policy in order to quickly appoint a replacement.

Council policy requires the city to post a public notice when a commission position opens unexpectedly, then wait 10 working days before making the appointment. Tuesday’s vote during a special City Council meeting would come four working days after the vacancy notice was posted.

At last week’s council meeting, Mayor Michael Henn emphasized the importance of quickly naming a replacement for Unsworth, who resigned as Planning Commission chairman earlier this month.

Councilman Steven Rosansky disagreed, saying that only a week of notice isn’t fair to the public.

The appointment is urgent because the Planning Commission is expected to begin its review of Banning Ranch in January. The proposal — 1,375 homes and 75,000 square feet of retail space — is planned for 402 acres of ocean-view property.

In his resignation letter, Unsworth stated he expected the Banning Ranch review to continue beyond the end of his term in June. His replacement should have the entire review period to examine the project, he wrote.

“Appointing someone to fill that position now would allow the new commissioner to be involved from the beginning of the Planning Commission’s decision-making process,” he wrote.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Newport Beach City Council chambers, 3300 Newport Blvd.

— NICK GERDA

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