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City Agrees to Pay $392,040 for Small Lot Next to Freeway : Development: Purchase will allow addition of a right-turn lane to the 134 Freeway entrance. The council refused a trade for the parcel in 1988.


GLENDALE — Without comment or discussion, the Glendale City Council on Tuesday agreed to buy from a prominent developer a small freeway frontage lot that it had rejected in the wake of controversy four years ago.

The council voted 4 to 0 to pay $392,040 to Salvatore F. Gangi and his partners for less than a third of an acre at 870 Monterey Road, at the Glendale Avenue on-ramp to the westbound Ventura Freeway (134).

The action was listed on the consent calendar, which did not require individual discussion. Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg is on vacation.

The council in 1988 unanimously rejected a proposal to swap six acres of city-owned land at the top of an exclusive Oakmont View Drive subdivision for the lot, which Gangi has been unable to develop. The freeway lot was appraised then at $105,000, according to city records.

Public Works Director George Miller said the city needs a portion of Gangi's lot to add a right-turn lane to the freeway entrance. He said the price was based on a city appraisal of the lot if left intact without the widening project and used as a multiunit residential development.

Councilman Larry Zarian on Wednesday said that Gangi was seeking "a much, much higher price" than the amount approved Tuesday and that he had threatened to sue the city if it took only part of the land through condemnation. In a condemnation proceeding, a judge would determine the land's value.

Because of the threat of litigation, Zarian said that the issue was the topic of ongoing discussions by council members in closed sessions and that members had agreed upon the city's final offer about two months ago, although no vote was taken until Tuesday.

Although the lot is zoned for single-family development, Gangi had argued that it should be appraised as commercial property, which is worth far more but would require a zone change.

The agreed price, Zarian said, "was a compromise between a single-family and commercial property, which was a savings for the taxpayers." The price is reasonable in today's market, he said, although the value of multiple-unit properties in the city have dropped in the past few years.

Zarian said the city's appraisal in 1988 was based on potential development of the lot for a single-family residence. Zarian also said it was typical that the issue was placed on the consent calendar by the city manager because both parties had agreed to a price.

City Manager David Ramsay and Gangi could not be reached for comment.

Officials in 1988 said Gangi bought the L-shaped Monterey Road lot more than 15 years ago from the state, which sold the surplus freeway land for about $6,000. He was twice denied permission to build an office development on the site after nearby residents protested.

Former City Manager James Rez in 1988 called the property useless because it abuts residential lots and the freeway. The city then proposed turning the property into a mini-park.

Gangi had offered to swap the lot for the city's land above Oakmont View Drive, where he planned to build a home. Gangi had agreed to pay the city $190,500--the difference between the values of the two parcels.

But a portion of the city's land was needed to grade a ridge in order to fill in a six-acre hole and complete an adjacent 197-lot subdivision being built by Gangi and his development partner, John Gregg.

In the wake of protests from hundreds of homeowners, the city halted the land swap but eventually permitted Gregg-Gangi Development Co. to grade the ridge. The controversy sparked a moratorium on other hillside development, which was lifted this year because construction has halted during the recession.

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