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Planners Block Grading for Homes

August 10, 2000|ANNETTE KONDO

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission denied a developer's request to begin grading a mountainous area for four home lots.

The nearly 36-acre property is on Mulholland Highway just east of Las Virgenes Road. Grading for the driveway and four house pads would have required excavating more than 38,000 cubic yards of earth.

Several residents and state park officials spoke in opposition to the project, but representatives for the developer said they were disappointed that their proposal, which included a 20-acre conservation easement to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, was turned down.

The easement is land that would not be altered--an agreement that offsets any habitat loss from the project.

"We made a lot of concessions," said John Milo, a civil engineer for the property owner, Bren Haley Inc. of Calabasas. "I'm disappointed in their vision. I think they are very shortsighted."

But Dale Landroth, a Mulholland Highway resident for more than 20 years, said the way the project would cut a steep slope was unprecedented for the area.

"This project requires alteration of the site that is so severe to fit houses on there that we think it requires rethinking," said Suzanne Goode, an associate resource ecologist for the Angeles District of California State Parks.

As a concession, Joel Silverman, an engineer for the developer, said the landowners would be willing to drop the fourth lot from the proposal if the commission would approve the necessary conditional use permit.

The project's four parcels are each seven to almost 10 acres. The site plan called for one home on each parcel with one common private driveway.

However, Planning Commissioner Esther Feldman said the grading's effect on scenic views, wildlife corridors, the Mulholland Highway Scenic Corridor and other features required a denial. The commission voted 4 to 0.

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