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Panel OKs Open-Space Agreement


The La Canada Flintridge Planning Commission voted 3 to 0 Monday night to recommended approval of a development agreement for Sugar Loaf/Starland Drive area development.

In so doing, commission members deemed the nine-lot subdivision consistent with the city's general plan. Commission members James Anderson, Judy Breitman and Robert Craven were present at the meeting. Two members were absent, Jane Hogle and Warren Gannon.

This endorsement comes at the end of a yearlong battle to purchase much of the 46.5-acre site in Cherry Canyon for use as an open space preserve.

"A year ago, the people in the neighborhood began to circulate petitions and began to take action to work with the City Council to make sure that that property did become open space," Craven said. Five months ago, the city raised enough money to purchase 36.5 acres from the property's developers, the Flintridge Estates Partnership.

Under this arrangement, the city will purchase the 36.5 acres for use as an open-space preserve from Flintridge Estates Partnership for $1.75 million. Of that sum, $1 million would be provided by the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy. The remaining $750,000 would come from city funds.

The Flintridge Estates Partnership would be allowed to develop nine housing units on the remaining 10 acres.

Several residents said the city should have purchased the additional 9 acres.

"They thought the city should keep development out of there totally," said Campbell. "We got what we could. The city didn't have enough funds to buy all the land.

"We've always thought all along that that site was probably the most developable" in Cherry Canyon, Campbell said. "The developer and the city are partners in this now." Breitman said she endorsed the project after the Flintridge Estates Partnership offered to install a drainage system that would mitigate potential water and sewage damage to properties lower on the hill.

"We're better off now than if there was no development at all," Breitman said.

This is the third and final municipal acquisition within the 143.5-acre Cherry Canyon area. The first purchase was a 55-acre site in Cherry Canyon. The second purchase was a 42-acre parcel from the Lanterman estate.

Flintridge Estates Partnership must submit site plans and tract maps, which will be subjected to more detailed analysis by the city staff, Campbell said.

The planning commission vote comes after a decade of contention over the development of the Cherry Canyon area.

A number of area residents had expressed opposition to a similar project on the property 10 years ago, when the City Council approved a 36-lot development on the site. The development firm was unable to begin the project because of a lack of funding during the five-year entitlement period.

The initial development proposal for the project in 1988 allowed for the development of 28 lots on the 46.5-acre site.

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