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Council to Weigh Alternatives on Grading for Oakmont Site

September 22, 1988|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

For the first time since blocking a massive hillside grading project two months ago, the Glendale City Council today will publicly discuss potential solutions to completing the controversial Oakmont View housing subdivision.

Council members had been hoping that the city, the developer and nearby homeowners could agree on a plan leading to completion of the subdivision, located in an area of exclusive view homes in the Verdugo Mountains above the Oakmont Country Club.

But after several private meetings with city mediators, homeowner representatives have rejected all alternatives proposed by the city and the developer.

Instead, one homeowner group has formulated its own alternative that would severely restrict new development in the mountains and could delay completion of the Oakmont subdivision for years.

The developer has threatened to sue the city if a suitable solution cannot be found.

All the alternatives are scheduled to be discussed at the meeting, to be held at 8 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 613 E. Broadway.

At issue is how Gregg Development Co. of Glendale should complete the last 24 lots--worth an estimated $5 million--in a 197-lot subdivision approved by the council in 1976.

The developer's original plans called for all grading to be done within the 65-acre site. However, developers notified the city two years ago that they had run short of fill dirt for completing the project. They said they needed about 266,000 cubic yards of dirt to fill in a 6-acre debris basin created during earlier construction, according to city officials.

Developer John Gregg and his partners proposed to resolve the issue by slicing as much as 70 feet off a prominent mountain ridge. The cut would have been visible from La Crescenta Valley and Verdugo Canyon. That proposal was rejected by the council in July following public outcry.

A small portion of the ridge that Gregg proposed to grade is owned by the city and is designated as public open space. But most of the site, including the ridge top, is part of a 91-acre parcel that Gregg owns just north of the Oakmont View subdivision.

Many residents fear that any grading of the adjoining parcel would open the way for new, unwanted development in the hills. As a result, they rejected several alternative grading proposals that would have allowed the developer to obtain some of the dirt needed to fill in the hole in the Oakmont subdivision.

Residents also are opposed to the developer trucking in all the needed dirt from grading projects elsewhere in the city. That task would involve large truck and trailer rigs rumbling through steep, narrow hillside roads every few minutes for six months or more.

Bill Reed, a director of the Oakmont View III Homeowners' Assn., said on Wednesday that his organization is proposing another alternative. The plan, to be presented tonight, would permit completion of the Oakmont subdivision but limit future development.

Dirt From Elsewhere

Reed said the new proposal would permit the developer to truck in 50,000 cubic yards of fill dirt, which would take six to eight weeks. "We could bear that pain for a short time," Reed said. Loaded trucks would travel to the fill site on Oakmont View Drive, then leave on a different route along Barnes Circle, Beaudry Boulevard, San Gabriel Avenue and Country Club Drive.

The developer also would be allowed to make a V-shaped cut in the ridge to extend Oakmont View Drive into Gregg's adjoining property.

However, Reed said Gregg must agree to limit any development in the mountains to single lots of at least one acre in size that would be graded only after each lot is sold. Individuals and builders would be prohibited from buying more than two lots.

Dirt from both the cut for the roadway and the graded lots could be used to complete the Oakmont subdivision, Reed said, although he said he does not know how long that project could take.

Many homeowners admit that they view the developer's predicament in filling in the hole as their opportunity to control future development. "We really can't stop development and don't want to," Reed said. "But at least we can make it potable for everybody."

Gregg could not be reached for comment on the homeowners' proposal.

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