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Council Rebuffs Mayor on Azusa Renewal

January 25, 1987|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

Lyte said Irwindale would like to put the hotel in Azusa at the edge of a lake that could be created in a gravel pit straddling the Azusa-Irwindale border on the north side of the Foothill Freeway. The lake would occupy about eight acres and the hotel would sit on a 13-acre site. A restaurant is already under construction on Irwindale land next to the gravel pit.

Lyte said the developer is interested in building the hotel at that location only if he can work with the Irwindale Redevelopment Agency.

Azusa Mayor Moses said Irwindale claims to have "genius developers," but their special talent seems to be "to attract unhealthy businesses that can't find a home elsewhere." He referred specifically to the proposed waste-to-energy plant that Pacific Waste Management Corp. is seeking to build with Irwindale's assistance despite opposition from neighboring cities, including Azusa.

"If good businesses out there want to come and work in Azusa, we have land ready and available to them and they can arrange that without promoters," he said. "Azusa's land that Irwindale wants to grab is prime land . . . easily accessible to and from three major freeways."

Moses said that the expertise Irwindale claims to offer is expensive. For example, Lyte is paid 3% of the building-permit valuation of any project he claims credit for bringing into the city. The Irwindale redevelopment agency paid Lyte $302,348 in fees last year.

Similar Agreement

Moses noted that this arrangement is similar to an agreement that was proposed by Martin, Lyte and another consultant when they were hired by the city of Azusa as a team in 1983 to take over administrative, legal and redevelopment responsibilities.

The contract, which was never put into effect, would have paid them a finder's fee of 4% of the increased assessed valuation from redevelopment. The state attorney general's office reviewed the proposed arrangement and said it violated state law, noting that conflicts of interest arise when consultants must advise on projects on which they stand to receive commissions.

Both Martin and Lyte wound up working for the city of Azusa for monthly fees unconnected to development.

Martin resigned in September, 1983, and Lyte was fired in May, 1984. Lyte sued Azusa for breach of contract and won a $75,000 settlement last year.

As a result of the attorney general's opinion, Lyte's subsequent contract with the Irwindale Redevelopment Agency was rewritten in 1985 to specify that he cannot recommend his projects to the redevelopment agency board.

Martin, who is also city attorney as well as city manager and executive director of the Irwindale Redevelopment Agency, said he included that provision so that Lyte could collect fees from projects without making any recommendations that could present conflicts of interest.

In the proposal that Martin has submitted to Azusa, neither Lyte nor any other employee of the Irwindale Redevelopment Agency would have any contact with the Azusa City Council. The proposal specifies that "working relationships between Azusa and Irwindale will be at the staff level."

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