The Glendale City Council has ordered the developer of the city's largest proposed housing tract to go back to the drawing board to reach an agreement with city planners on the type of project that should be allowed in the hillside area.
"We are making one of the biggest decisions we will ever have to make," said Councilman Larry Zarian, who suggested that the developer work with the city's staff. "What we decide is going to set a precedent in the canyon."
The council, which will consider the proposals on Sept. 10, indicated that it wanted developer Hensler-MacDonald Inc. of Sun Valley to work with the city staff on several issues, including where multiple dwellings would be situated and what improvements would be required.
A city staff proposal, drafted last April, would allow 568 single-family homes. The developer has rejected that proposal as too costly.
Wants to Build 588 Units
Hensler-MacDonald wants to build 588 units, including 452 attached town houses and the rest single-family homes, on 66 acres of a 316-acre tract in the San Rafael hills. The plan superseded two previous proposals for higher-density development that would have utilized a larger portion of the property. Those were strongly opposed by area residents.
Several homeowner groups have endorsed the developer's latest proposal, calling it the least objectionable because it would preserve two-thirds of the site as open space. Residents said they fear that denser development of the hillsides may be proposed if Hensler-MacDonald's latest plan is not approved.
The developer's clustered housing plan requires that the property be rezoned from single-family residential to residential planned development, which must be approved by four of the five council members, said Dennis Schuck, assistant city attorney.
Two council members, Mayor Jerold Milner and Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg, said last week that they oppose the proposal because they feel that attached housing is not suitable in an area of expensive hillside homes. Therefore, it is possible that, even if the 588-unit plan is approved by a council majority, it may not win the needed zone change.
The staff's alternative to building only single-family homes was presented last week during a five-hour hearing. It was produced by the city Environmental and Planning Board, consisting of City Atty. Frank Manzano, Planning Director Gerald Jamriska and Public Works Director George Miller.
The Planning Commission earlier recommended denial of the developer's first two proposals and last month split 2 to 2 on the 588-unit proposal.
The council, as expected, last week also rejected the developers' first two proposals, one calling for 792 single-family units and town homes and the other for 627 single-family houses.
Marlene Roth, a planning consultant representing the developers, objected to the staff plan, saying that it is unworkable and that there is not enough time to consider it. Under state law, the city must act on the developer's plan by Oct. 23.
Second Cluster Proposal
The Hensler-MacDonald proposal is the second clustered housing development proposed in the city under a recently adopted zoning code. The 85-unit Chevy Oaks development was the first.
The new code allows developers to increase density of units in some areas in order to preserve open space in others. Hensler-MacDonald's plan would preserve more than 206 acres as open space.
Councilman Carl Raggio said he supports the clustered housing plan because it would provide houses ranging in price from $150,000 to $300,000.