Planners to Formally Reject Rio Santiago Housing Project

Planning commissioners in Orange are set to officially reject the controversial Rio Santiago project this week.

Commissioners are following up on a 3-0 vote March 3 to deny the project’s environmental impact report, which they viewed as inadequate.

They had previously raised concerns about the report having more “significant and unavoidable impacts” than any other project known to be approved by the city, among other issues.

Rio Santiago would convert the former Sully Miller mine, which is just south of Santiago Creek in East Orange, into a housing development for hundreds of residents. Sports facilities and nature trails are also proposed.

The housing would comprise up to 130 single-family homes and a mixture of 265 homes, condos and assisted-living beds for seniors.

The land’s owners, Milan Capital Management and JMI Real Estate, have said it would enhance the area by using aesthetically pleasing buildings and setting aside most of the land for open space, recreation facilities and trails.

Critics have countered with concerns about flooding, fires and methane gas from an adjacent landfill.

In the background of the debate is a lawsuit by Orange residents challenging the approval of another housing project by the same landowner.

That case is now before the state Supreme Court.

A formal Planning Commission resolution is up for adoption Monday night that would deny the project’s environmental impact report along with a series of other approvals it would need.

It’s unclear whether the project’s landowner will appeal the decision to the City Council.

The meeting starts Monday at 7 p.m. at Orange City Hall.

Curious what else is happening this week? Click here to check out our rundown at On the Agenda.

Please contact Nick Gerda directly at and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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