The Glendale City Council this week at first denied, but quickly reversed itself and approved, a developer's request to lift special building restrictions on proposed new homes in a Verdugo Mountains hillside development.
The council, after Mayor Carroll Parcher changed his vote, Tuesday adopted a new ordinance that cancels some restrictions of a 1977 ordinance governing the Verdugo Mountains subdivision. The restrictions were replaced with new ones contained in the city's general ordinance for hillside development, adopted in 1981.
The action eliminates requirements that front yards of proposed homes in the Verdugo Mountains subdivision be at least 18 to 20 feet deep. Instead, the yards can be smaller under guidelines of the 1981 ordinance.
At a public hearing last week, residents opposed any change in the 1977 restrictions, arguing that the developer's plans to build more houses could lower the value of existing homes in the neighborhood.
The 1977 ordinance approving the subdivision also permitted building pads, which are already in place, to be smaller than other lots in the area in order to minimize grading needed and the visual impact of the project. Restrictions on the size of front yards were adopted at that time as a compromise with residents who opposed the subdivision.
However, council members said the earlier restrictions are now superseded by provisions of the hillside development ordinance that sets similar restrictions on heights and grading.
Although the council rescinded the restrictions on front yards, it retained provisions of the 1977 ordinance that require city approval of the architectural design of homes in the mountain subdivision, the only place in the city other than downtown redevelopment projects where such a review is required.
But, unlike the redevelopment zone, no architectural guidelines exist for the hillside area and council members, in effect, have to vote on whether or not they like the architecture of a proposed house.
JCC Enterprises Inc., which purchased lots in the subdivision, had asked the city to relinquish design controls but later dropped the request in the face of public opposition.
City planners have proposed that design controls be adopted citywide for all new construction. Although most council members said they feel unqualified to judge architecture, they said some form of review is necessary and are studying the idea to adopt one citywide.
In order to cancel restrictions of the 1977 ordinance, approval of a new ordinance was required by four of the five council members. Councilman John F. Day last week said he would not vote in favor of a new ordinance because he did not want to renege on an agreement reached with homeowners eight years ago. The other four council members last week indicated they would grant the developer's request.
However, when a formal vote on a new ordinance was taken Tuesday, Parcher stunned the council and the developer's representative, attorney Robert Garcin, by voting with Day against it. Parcher explained that he is opposed to provisions of the ordinance that retain architectural controls over the subdivision.
After City Atty. Frank Manzano explained that the action denied the builder's request altogether, Parcher changed his vote on the second roll call.
The action affects about 25 lots in a subdivision of 68 home sites. Lots affected are on Aspen Oak Lane, Canonwood Drive, Deermont Road, Rimcrest Drive and Wonderview Drive.