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The developer of large mixed-use development project proposed for Grantville will be appearing at a future city council meeting armed with the approval from the City's planning commission.

On Thursday, planning commissioners unanimously approved amending the Allied Gardens community plan to make room for Riverbend, a 996-unit mixed-use project on 23 acres of land along the San Diego River near Old Cliffs Road.

The project has become a major issue for the community. In the past year, representatives from Urban Housing Partners and residents of Allied Gardens and Grantville have gone back and forth on an adequate amount of park space, over proper height of buildings, and an acceptable amount of traffic.

Tension mounted during a controversial July 16 community planning meeting, when the group voted 8-to7 against the project. The failure to provide a recommendation, however, allowed planning commissioners to take matters into their own hands.

Much of the meeting was spent on public testimony. Proponents praised the design, the public park, and employees for the developer read letters from residents urging commissioners to approve the community plan amendments. Opponents, on the other hand, objected to 75-foot towers in their community and complained about increased density and additional traffic.

A few commissioners did express some of concerns from residents. Commissioner Stephen Haase questioned the impact that 75-foot buildings would have on Mission Gorge Road and Commissioners Robert Griswold and Eric Naslund both had concerns about the traffic numbers used by Urban Housing Partners. But in the end, those concerns weren't enough to vote the project down.

"Clearly whats happened here is to move away from the river, and provide adequate park space and I think that is why you have these height limits," said planning chair Eric Naslund before voting in favor of the project. "The community needs to think about whether its best to pull back from the river in exchange for taller buildings and better view corridors. I happen to agree that this is the best way to do it. That's just the way I see it."

Now, the community and the developer will plea their case to the city council during a future meeting, after their August recess.

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