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Coastal panel approves 73-foot faux lighthouse for Newport Beach

March 6, 2013 | 12:21 pm

An artist's rendering of the project provided by the city of Newport Beach.

The Coastal Commission decided Wednesday morning that a faux lighthouse Newport Beach officials say will serve as a city icon and helpful landmark for boaters at the city’s planned Marina Park can stand up to 73 feet tall — as tall as the city hoped.

The commission, which regulates development along coasts up and down the state, voted 8 to 2 to allow an amendment to the city’s coastal land use plan to allow for the structure, which will exceed an existing 35-foot height limit in the area.

The panel met at the Bahia Resort Hotel in San Diego.

A commission staff report had recommended that the height of the proposed tower be limited to 55 feet — a compromise anchored in the fact that 55 feet would be just tall enough to house an unsightly tsunami warning siren mounted on a pole.

But the commission ultimately sided with the city.

The vote included the caveat that language specifying the exception applies only to the Marina Park structure also be added to the land use plan — a measure aimed at preempting the use of the lighthouse as a precedent for future developments that would change the Newport skyline.

While the commission gave the overall Marina Park project, which will include a number of community amenities including recreational slips and a sailing center, the go-ahead in June, they approved it without the proposed lighthouse.

Later last year, the city applied separately for an exception to its land use plan to allow the 73-foot-tall lighthouse.

With the commission's approval of the height exception, the city will now work to either amend its overall Marina Park development permit to include the taller structure, or apply for a separate development permit for the lighthouse.

Newport City Manager Dave Kiff said the city is happy with the result of the vote.

“We think that’s an important visual element, and we’re glad the commission agreed,” he said.

The buildings at Marina Park, he said, are still a ways off, because the construction of the park’s proposed public marina will come first.  

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-- Jill Cowan, Times Community News, in San Diego

Image: An artist's rendering of the project provided by the city of Newport Beach.

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