The Glendale City Council appeared Tuesday to have cleared the way for developer Ken Doty to submit new plans for a controversial subdivision in Glenoaks Canyon before new hillside building guidelines are adopted.
The council voted 3 to 2 to allow Doty to scale down his plan to build 25 million-dollar houses on 30 acres off Sleepy Hollow Place and submit an alternative proposal before the city toughens its development regulations.
The council also indicated that it will overturn its Dec. 4 decision to reject the environmental impact report for Doty's 25-house proposal. That could save the developer six months to a year in processing an alternative plan, city officials said.
Glenoaks Canyon homeowners, who have battled with Doty for more than a year over his Sleepy Hollow plan, expressed dismay at the action.
"It was a real surprise," said Joe Bridges, vice president of the Glenoaks Canyon Homeowners Assn. "I'm disappointed in their decision to change the vote. I thought Doty had ample time to consider a smaller subdivision and had refused to do so."
Doty's plan was one of four proposed projects exempted from an 18-month ban on hillside development passed in March so officials could develop new rules covering grading, ridgeline preservation and other issues.
The council, after a late-night public hearing Dec. 4, voted 3 to 2 to reject the 25-house proposal and to not certify its environmental review. Members said they wanted to see fewer houses and less environmental damage in the canyon. They also said the review did not include all reasonable alternatives as required by state law.
The decision effectively stopped Doty from filing a new plan before the hillside building ban is lifted in October, after tougher regulations are adopted. It required him to do a new environmental review, which can take a year or more, City Atty. Scott Howard said.
But Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg, who with Mayor Larry Zarian and Councilman Carl Raggio earlier had defeated Doty's plan, this week changed her mind.
She directed city staff members to prepare documents that will allow the council to certify Doty's original environmental review. The council next week is expected to schedule public hearings in January before formally reconsidering the report.
Bremberg and Councilmen Jerold Milner and Richard Jutras are expected to approve the review. Zarian and Raggio have indicated that they will again vote to reject it.
Bremberg said she changed her position because she did not realize that she could reject the 25-house tract but approve the environmental report. She said she still opposes any proposal that will affect the canyon's ridgeline but believes that the original report will accommodate an alternative plan.
"I think that other alternatives can be presented in the framework of the environmental report," Bremberg said. "I don't see the point of keeping this thing going for another two years. Let's get it over with."
The council's vote Tuesday to extend Doty's exemption from the ban will apply only to Doty's project and not to the three others in the hillside development pipeline. Howard has said making an exception for only one developer would leave the city on shaky legal ground.
Last week, Doty told council members that his plans could be scaled down but refused to say by how much. Doty had maintained for more than a year that any subdivision smaller than 25 houses would be financially unfeasible.