Pacific Grove planning chair seeks to remove controversial agenda item

Peninsula Premier Admin

PACIFIC GROVE — The head of the Pacific Grove Planning Commission will ask colleagues on Thursday to remove a controversial item from its meeting agenda that deals with height definitions that critics say was a nod to the planned American Tin Cannery hotel project.

The move stems from an agenda item that sought to define a height limit of commercial projects in Pacific Grove — a discussion about different ways to determine building height.

In an email between Planning Commission Chairman Don Murphy and a critic of the agenda item, Anthony Ciani, Murphy, who placed the discussion on Thursday’s agenda, said he now was going to ask his colleagues to remove the item, but that he could not make any promises on how the rest of the commission would vote on his request.

Ciani said he supported a discussion of height definitions, but not when the American Tin Cannery hotel project is coming before the commission on Feb. 11. The height of the project will assuredly be part of the broader debate. To have a height definition discussion on Thursday, as originally planned, would, in Ciani’s view, be introducing the merits of the project before its official start next month.

Murphy acknowledged that to have the discussion this week right before the beginning of the project review would be problematic.

But, having that discussion now, when the project is expected to come to the commission soon, seems to be problematic.

Alyson Hunter, the senior planner for the city, said Thursday’s Planning Commission agenda item is only to discuss heights of large, sloped commercial projects and not necessarily the American Tin Cannery hotel project.

“The critical component of this is that it is a general discussion on how to define height,” she said in a previous interview. “It’s simply an attempt to clarify height definitions in our own code. It’s gotten out of hand and people are up in arms.”

The developer, El Segundo-based Comstock Properties, is proposing a 225-room, two-wing hotel on the 5.59 acres that will include 20,000 square feet of retail, a restaurant, lounge and meeting spaces, on parcels now occupied by American Tin Cannery Outlets at Ocean View Boulevard and Eardley Avenue — just a stone’s throw from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Contributed by local news sources

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