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LA MESA -- At the last city Planning Commission meeting, a representative of the American Legion shocked a hearing on the Park Station project when he suddenly announced the organization was opposing its own proposal.
Park Station's development team was sent scrambling, saying they weren't sure their American Legion partners understood what they were doing.
Apparently, the Legionaries did know.
On Tuesday, City Manager Dave Witt said city officials had been in touch with the American Legion officials and they have apparently left the project team.
"I think you have to consider them out,'' Witt said.
A visit to the American Legion post, which is just south of the main Park Station property along Baltimore Drive found the post's manager cleaning up his kitchen but otherwise not willing to discuss the project.
"On that, I have no comment, except we're not selling, and we're not going anywhere,'' said Lenny Guccione, who has been the legion's spokesman. At a Planning Commission hearing last month, Guccione said his membership has become uneasy with the scale of the project and was rethinking its participation.
The legion's sudden departure as co-applicant for the zoning changes being sought for the mixed use project -- including a variance that would allow 110-foot towers -- has left city officials scrambling to determine what impact this change will have on the Park Station application.
The project, which was originally proposed to cover more than five-acres of land along Spring-University-Baltimore and the MTS trolley tracks, was filed years ago as a joint effort between the Kitzman family and the America Legion Post next door to the family's property. Calculations made throughout the Environmental Impact Report, which was literally years in the making, used the Kitzman and American Legion acreage to defend densities proposed and the height exceptions being sought. (The city's normal zoning requirements limit heights to 46 feet or about four stories.)
Witt said the city staff was working to determine whether the Legion pulling out requires that this be filed as a new application -- essentially starting over with filings and hearings.
"We'll have this figured out in a day or so,'' Witt said Tuesday.
The Park Station project has drawn a lot of attention since it was first proposed more than four years ago. Its scale and scope fits nicely with the hopes of regional planners who want to encourage transit-related, high density projects rather than more suburban sprawl. But many La Mesans see their city as a single-family, small-town kind of place and have been particularly uneasy with the 110-foot tower that would house a hotel or condo project.
The official hearing on the project before the Planning Commission last month was suspended and is scheduled to return for further deliberations before that panel July 16th. However, the timing of the resumption of the hearing may depend on whether the Kitzmans will be required to file a new application without their Legion partners involved.