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COMMUNITY NEWS: East

MONTEREY HILLS : Neighbors Lose Bid to Block Homes

July 25, 1993|MARY ANNE PEREZ

Residents who tried to block a proposed 24-home development on the grounds that the land has poor drainage lost their appeal last week before a city committee.

The Planning and Land Use Management Committee of the city Planning Commission voted unanimously in favor of the developer because the project met city requirements. Residents opposed to the project say they have exhausted their appeals with the city and are now meeting with the developer to address their concerns.

Last week's appeal was the latest in a number of hurdles the developer, Green Hills Investment, has faced in trying to build the $10-million development on 14 acres between Pullman and Lathrop streets. The homes would be built on 20,000-square-foot lots and will be priced from $450,000.

"Our concern is that it's an ecological area and there's danger in tampering with it," said Linda Frye, who filed the last appeal. "We haven't a leg to stand on because they're within their legal rights to build."

In meetings with the developer, residents have asked that construction and other jobs related to the development go to local residents, and that the development leave a vista point where neighbors could continue to walk into the area. The developer has agreed to those requests and also will allow residents to look in on construction, Frye said.

Art Gastelum, a lobbyist for the developer, said building may not begin until next year because the project is still winding its way through the city approval process. He and community members are meeting to discuss the design of the homes and other issues.

"One of the concerns that the community kept raising was the stability of the hill," Gastelum said. "Even though we had done studies on this and found that it was safe to build, we agreed to a third study to alleviate their fears."

The property is on a hill, but the site will be graded for the development, Gastelum said.

The developer will also have to pay for additional soil tests and the community will be able to select the company that will conduct the tests, said Henry Gonzalez, an assistant to Councilman Richard Alatorre.

Residents' complaints and their appeals to various city committees have resulted in changes in the developer's plans to haul out 85,000 cubic yards of dirt during construction. Now, Gonzalez said, the builder will keep the dirt on the property.

Frye said she and about 15 other residents plan to organize a group, called A Better Living Environment, to address concerns about future developments in the area.

"We want to take a political stance instead of waiting for the city to do it for us," he said.

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