A 176-unit apartment complex is one step closer to construction after the Goleta Planning Commission approved its conceptual development plans Monday night.

The commission voted 2-1 to move the Cortona Apartments project forward for final approval by the City Council, with a stipulation that the council encourage developers to make every effort to use recycled water.

Commissioners Greg Jenkins and Eric Onnen voted for the proposal. Chairman Brent Daniels cast the dissenting vote, saying he disliked mixing residential housing with nearby industrial parks. Commissioner Ed Fuller was absent.

Developers propose to build Cortona Apartments on a nearly nine-acre vacant, triangular parcel at 6830 Cortona Drive, with Highway 101 near the Storke Road exit and railroad tracks to the north and business parks to the east, west and south.

The affordable rental housing would be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units — 66 one-bedrooms, 100 two-bedrooms and 10 three-bedrooms — within four two-story buildings at the front of the site and four three-story buildings at the rear.

Commissioners got their first glimpse at project plans and a final environmental impact report Monday. At the meeting, they allowed an amendment to the city’s general plan regarding environmental designations and recommended council adopt an accompanying statement of overriding consideration related to the site possibly being exposed to hazardous materials because of nearby railroad tracks.

The development, first proposed in 2009, originally contained five fewer units and has since submitted revised plans outlining an affordable housing component.

Bendy White, a land-use consultant and Santa Barbara city councilman who represented applicant John Price of Cortona Corner LP, requested development and setback modifications, which were also granted for the project, which features a recreational building, swimming pool and spa, walking paths, open space and sand volleyball court.

A total of 330 total parking spaces, including 178 carport spaces, were planned, with access on Cortona Drive.

The Goleta Design Review Board had already granted unanimous conceptual approval in June 2012, with conditions to study cultural elements and to build eight-foot concrete privacy walls along the east and west property lines instead of the original six feet.

City staff went over proposed environmental mitigations for noise, air quality, aesthetics and traffic, which would require an expanded bus stop on eastbound Hollister Avenue at the Kmart Commercial Center.

Water discussion took priority because of the drought, and since staff said the development was exempt from the Stage Two water restrictions issued by the Goleta Water District, which already had an agreement to serve the site.

Mitigation measures were also developed so a Chumash tribal representative could monitor excavation for archaeological deposits.

Commissioners agreed with several public speakers and owners of adjacent business parks, who were concerned the site was awkwardly and uncomfortably close to nonresidential areas, but the majority ultimately somewhat reluctantly sided in favor of creating more much-needed workforce housing.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at gpotthoff@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.