The city of Anaheim will study the use of a 280-acre county-owned property in Anaheim Hills for a countywide veterans cemetery, after the City Council voted unanimously to work with the county and other interest groups on a feasibility study.

“The message from Anaheim is, we would be honored and we would be welcoming,” said Mayor Tom Tait.

The City Council voted unanimously July 17 to study the property located at the intersection of the 241 toll road and the 91 freeway. The property was formerly owned by the Irvine Company, which had plans to build a residential community on the site, until the company abandoned the project and gave the property to the County of Orange. 

Last month, the Orange County Board of Supervisors directed staff to begin studying the site in Anaheim, after two potential sites in Irvine fell through.

The county’s first veterans cemetery was slated to be in Irvine after the City Council opted for a land swap with developer FivePoint Holdings last June. The city was going to trade land near the heart of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station for agricultural land near the 5 and 405 freeways.

But Irvine voters rejected the land swap this year in the June 5 primary election after a heated ballot petition campaign that challenged a land use ordinance required for the swap.

The Irvine City Council has since voted to study other sites on the former El Toro base and explore other city properties.

The new site in Anaheim Hills has been owned by the county for nearly three years, but it wasn’t until recently that the Veteran’s Alliance of Orange County proposed the site.

A number of residents and veterans spoke at the Anaheim City Council meeting in favor of studying the site, and a few criticized the Irvine City Council for failing to secure a site. Currently, the nearest available veterans cemeteries are in San Diego and Riverside Counties.

“That cemetery belongs at El Toro [Air Station]. We have such a rich history of military bases here,” said Tim Schindler, an Anaheim resident. “Shame on Irvine and the politicians that play that game.”

Contact Thy Vo at or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

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