MONROVIA — A developer and a property owner are fighting in court over who gave permission--and who should pay--for a road that cut a slash across the Monrovia foothills.
The couple who own the hillside property say in their suit that the road, almost a mile long, was cut through their land without authorization. The developer, meanwhile, has sued Monrovia, claiming that city officials approved plans for the road without obtaining the owners' permission.
Former Diamond Bar City Councilman Gary G. Miller and his wife, Cathleen, filed a $10.5-million lawsuit against Arcadia developer Charles Bluth on Aug. 30, alleging that Bluth trespassed on their property to cut the road, and destroyed 250 oak trees and other vegetation.
On Nov. 21, Bluth sued the city, seeking $5 million in damages for loss of income for the delay in adding 24 single-family houses to his 24-home Whispering Pines Estates. Bluth's suit accuses the city of negligence for approving construction of the road without obtaining the property owners' permission.
Bluth says Monrovia officials gave him permission last year to build an access road to the city's water tank in order to provide water to the Whispering Pines extension. The city also planned to use the road as emergency fire access, he said.
According to Bluth's lawsuit, the city had planned to have the road built, and was preparing to put the project up for bid. The suit says that, to avoid delay in constructing the homes, the city allowed Bluth to build the road and approved his plans for the project. He said city officials told him that they would obtain permission for an easement and water line. Bluth said the city later revised his plans, and gave him new plans that included installing fire hydrants along the water line.
Between Dec. 26, 1989, and Jan. 11, while the road was under construction, city inspectors and other employees viewed the work and allowed it to continue, Bluth's suit says.
Don Hopper, Monrovia's community development director, said the city's November, 1988, approval of a water line from Upper Cloverleaf Reservoir to Bluth's housing development was only conceptual. Bluth began grading before final plans were presented to the City Council, Hopper said.
According to a city report, the council was unaware that the city intended to grade a maintenance road in addition to the water line.