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2 Newhall Land Executives Retire

Personnel: The officials played central roles in the controversial 21,000-home development. The company says the departures will not interrupt plans for the massive housing project.

May 15, 1999|KAREN ROBINSON-JACOBS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two key players in Newhall Land & Farming Co.'s bid to create the largest housing project in Los Angeles County history have left the company in recent weeks, opting for early retirement, a company official said Friday.

Jim Harter, senior vice president of the company's Newhall Ranch Division, and Gloria Glenn, vice president of planning, both had central roles in the company's controversial effort to create the Newhall Ranch development, a proposed 21,000-home "new town" along California 126 near the Ventura County line.

Harter, 52, who helped secure Los Angeles County's approval of the project, retired in April, according to Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer.

His replacement has been hired and will be announced within a few weeks, Lauffer said. Harter had been with the company since 1992.

Glenn, 57, who last year celebrated her 25th year with the company, left in February. Her duties will be assumed by other executives.

Both were said to have left for personal reasons.

"Both of them had long-term goals to retire at a younger age," said Lauffer, who said the two announced their desire to retire early "some time ago."

"Their leaving was part of a long-term plan to retire at a time when they could thoroughly enjoy all that life has to offer," she added.

Lauffer confirmed the departures Friday, but the company made no public announcement. Lauffer said that was in keeping with company policy not to announce departing executives until replacements are named.

Lauffer said the two had planned to stay with the Valencia-based company through the governmental approval process. That concluded in March, when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors gave final approval to the environmental impact report and specific plan for Newhall Ranch.

That approval triggered at least three lawsuits, including one from Ventura County that claimed the plans approved by Los Angeles County did not adequately address the impact of the development on traffic, air pollution and water supplies.

Lauffer said Harter will continue to serve as a consultant "as we move into the legal venue." She said the two departures will cause "absolutely no interruption in the business activity" surrounding Newhall Ranch.

Two Los Angeles real estate analysts, Craig M. Silvers and Katherine E. Flores, both with Sutro & Co., said they did not expect the departures to have any impact on Newhall Land's stock price, which closed Friday at $25.44, up 19 cents, but down from its 52-week high of $31.93.

Despite a strong operating performance, the company's stock price--and shares of most real estate firms--remain depressed as investors remain wary on the industry's prospects. Newhall Land said it plans to buy back as many as 2 million of its shares if the price remains weak.

"They are on track to have a very strong year," Flores said.

Times staff writer Jesus Sanchez contributed to this report.

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