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The Valley

Glendale Sued by Builder

April 09, 2002|KRISTINA SAUERWEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Developers of a 572-home hillside subdivision blocked by Glendale have filed a lawsuit alleging that the city, in effect, took their property without compensation and violated their constitutional rights.

The litigation came a month after the Glendale City Council unanimously rejected plans for Oakmont View V, a 238-acre luxury tract in the Verdugo Mountains.

Environmentalists and homeowner groups have fought the project for more than a decade.

"We are absolutely not giving up, that's for darn sure," said John L. Gregg, president of Gregg's Artistic Homes, the builder. "Not after all we've invested in the property."

The lawsuit, filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that the council's action amounted to a condemnation of the property, without compensation to Gregg's company. The amount of damages sought will depend on a professional assessment, but will be "in the tens of millions," said Scott Yamaguchi, Gregg's attorney.

A decade ago, the developers say, the land was appraised at $46 million.

Glendale Mayor Rafi Manoukian declined to comment Monday. City Atty. Scott Howard said the suit was expected and "the city intends to vigorously defend against it.''

State lawmakers have approved $8 million toward buying the Oakmont land for preservation. But Yamaguchi said that amount is not "even close to its worth."

It is the third lawsuit filed by Gregg's Artistic Homes against the city. The other two disputed the city's handling of the environmental impact report for Oakmont.

Council members have said they opposed Oakmont mostly because of health and environmental hazards. City planners had released a 24-page report that found the project "inconsistent" with the Glendale General Plan. The report also said the tract could pose a landslide hazard.

The 2,000-page environmental impact report concluded that Oakmont would harm the air, wildlife and scenic vistas.

Gregg disputed the findings in both reports.

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