A new plan to develop an 18-hole golf course and possibly a boutique hotel and spa on part of the former Coyote Canyon Landfill in Newport Coast moved forward Tuesday following a unanimous vote of approval by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
The Supervisors approved two agreements with Tait Development, LLC, which is managed by Trevor Tait of Dana Point. Tom Tait, a former Anaheim mayor, council member, and planning commissioner, is CEO of Tait & Associates.
The first approved contract is an option agreement to conduct due diligence on the 375-acre parcel, and the second is a 75-year lease to design, build and operate the property that could generate about $52 million for the County over the lease’s term.
“I’m just glad to see this item finally moving forward,” Board Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett said. “We have a great opportunity for a good project on this site and a great, stellar development team and we look forward to seeing what they bring forth.”
Trevor Tait did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment on Thursday.
According to the County staff report, Tait is proposing a project that will include a driving range/practice facility, public space with walking trails, a four-star restaurant, boutique hotel with spa, banquet/meeting facility, a great room, and an outdoor beer garden and recreational area.
In September 2017, the Board selected another group, Chapman Investment Company LP, as the primary developer of the site. After Chapman terminated negotiations with the County in May 2018, Tait & Associates, Inc., was contacted to restart talks with the County CEO’s office.
The landfill is currently preserved as open space with approximately 123.5 acres set aside as coastal scrub habitat for the California gnatcatcher. Approximately 205 acres of the landfill is available for leasing and potential development.
Coyote Canyon Landfill operated from 1963 to 1990. OC Waste & Recycling has maintained the site to follow state laws governing air emissions and water quality since 1995. The area around the landfill is monitored through a network of about 155 gas-monitoring probes.
“Although the County values the potential for revenue, the County’s primary commitment is to comply with all applicable regulatory requirements for closed landfills,” county staffers wrote in a report.
Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill said the project still has a lot of planning and environmental study to complete. He expects the Supervisors and Tait & Associates to be good stewards and neighbors to the Newport Beach community.
“We, of course, expect significant community outreach that will address noise abatement and lighting and traffic concerns,” he said. “Overall, the chance to substantially increase public access to open areas and beautify a pipe-covered landfill is exciting if done well.”
Former Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill made it one of his initiatives in 2014 to build an affordable public golf course at the old Coyote Canyon Landfill site. He was enthusiastic about the project and thought a golf course would fit well on the land.
Sage Hill School, which sits across Newport Coast Drive from the former landfill, is keeping an eye on the project’s progress, school spokesman Torrey Olins said.
“This golf course development is something that has been spoken about for years, if not decades, and we at Sage Hill will obviously review and monitor if and when this plan does go forward or there are more concrete proposals,” Olins said.