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Builder Bends So Trees Won't Break

October 10, 1987|STEPHANIE CHAVEZ | Times Staff Writer

A quarter-mile stretch of tall eucalyptus and pines in Agua Dulce has been spared, a week after more than 30 area residents came between the trees and a developer's chain saw.

A spokesman for Encino-based Larwin Construction Co. said Friday that he has received verbal approval from Los Angeles County planning officials to amend the firm's construction plans so that a road can be moved about 10 feet, eliminating the need to fell the trees.

"We're glad the company listened to us and decided to save the trees," said Darlene Small, one of the protest organizers. "We were prepared for a long, tough battle. Those trees mean a lot to everyone out here."

Residents said they had organized a petition drive to garner more support for the save-the-trees campaign. Earlier this week, they posted a sign which said, "Mr. Keston, please save our trees." Michael Keston is president of Larwin Construction.

"Everyone feels good that we aren't going to have to continue with the protests," Small said.

An Agua Dulce Landmark

The 40 trees, which locals call an Agua Dulce landmark, border the dirt Domino Hill Road. Originally, Larwin officials intended to remove the trees to widen and pave the road as part of a 49-unit housing development.

Unaware of the developer's plans to saw down the trees, residents said, they were jarred awake Oct. 2 by the buzzing of chain saws. Many ran to the site and pleaded with workers to stop sawing. Others parked cars and trucks between the trees to prevent workers from cutting them down.

The protests halted the sawing and led to the developer's decision to amend his plan, although the project had already received full county approval. Eucalyptus and pines are not protected in the county.

"We don't like to offend our fellow community members," said Tom Welsh, vice president of Larwin Construction. "From a company standpoint, we thought it would be a good thing to work with the residents."

Welsh said plans call for reducing the size of house lots beside the road to make up for the 10 feet needed to save the trees, which means lots will be slightly smaller than the county-stipulated minimum of 2 1/2 acres in rural Agua Dulce.

Residents said they support the plan.

"This is very acceptable to us," said Debbie Gardner, 33, a 13-year resident of Agua Dulce. "It's just an exception for a few lots, and, as long as it saves the trees, we plan.

Notice Required

County planning officials said that Welsh must file a modification to his parcel map and that it must be approved by the county planning commission.

A spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district includes Agua Dulce, said the amended plan is expected to be approved.

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