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VALLEY FOCUS | Van Nuys

Zone Change OKd for Former Drive-In Site

January 23, 1998|TOM BECKER

The path was cleared for a new business to move into the former Van Nuys Drive-In Theater site when the city Planning Commission voted Thursday to approve a crucial zoning change.

The City Council must now approve the change to allow Car Max, a used-vehicle dealership owned by Circuit City, to purchase and move into the Roscoe Boulevard property.

Thursday's vote concerned changing the property's zoning from residential to commercial. For years, the property had been zoned residential, but the drive-in theater was allowed to exist as an exception.

The zoning change came after about nine months of negotiations between Car Max, council members, local businesses and residents' associations.

During that time, Car Max established allies at Noble Avenue elementary school, across the street from the property.

"We see this as a great economic opportunity for the Panorama City-Van Nuys area with very minimal negative impact," said Tom Henry, an aide to Councilman Joel Wachs, who represents the area. Henry said Wachs expects the council to approve the change when it considers the issue in about six weeks.

Car Max's plans include an outdoor lot, an indoor showroom, landscaped lawns and an entrance-exit driveway on Roscoe Boulevard. The Planning Commission has also agreed to recommend the installation of a traffic signal at the driveway, Henry said.

The Van Nuys Drive-In Theater was one of the last in the Valley when it closed in early 1996. About a year later, Wal-Mart expressed an interest in purchasing the property, but opted for a parcel in Panorama City.

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