A River Will Run Through It

Photo by James BunoanIt took something approaching an act of Congress, but a bizarre plan to build 180 homes in the path of a creek atop an old mine has seemingly finally run into reality. On Feb. 4, state officials told the city of Orange that Newport Beach-based Fieldstone Communities' proposal for a residential community would violate state law.

The controversial project stretches back decades, when the Sully-Miller company blocked off Santiago Creek in East Orange, laying bare immense sand and gravel deposits in the creekbed. In 1992, Sully-Miller was acquired by Hansen Aggregates and began recycling asphalt on the site. Now comes Fieldstone with a plan for homes, parks and horse paths on the very same spot.

Anxious that Fieldstone's homes would lie in the path of the occasionally riled-up Santiago Creek, the office of mine reclamation chided Orange for failing to enforce state law for more than 10 years. The office directed city officials to ensure that Hansen Aggregates restores the river—and then surrenders the land to nature.

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