Historical society concerned about Brockmont home

About a month after the City Council approved blanket rules protecting historic homes in the Brockmont Park neighborhood, one of the homes within the historic district is set to be considered for demolition following a city recommendation to approve the razing.

The revelation came as a shock to historic preservationists, who called the proposal a blow after years of work to establish the overlay zone comprising 59 homes mostly built between 1910 and 1954.

"Why would you be allowing a house in a historic district to be torn down?" said Richard Lieboff, one of many homeowners in the neighborhood who worked for more than three years to establish the Brockmont Park Historic District.

"That's just not right," he added.

City officials have long touted the importance of preserving neighborhood character and the number of homes protected by Glendale's historic district ordinance. The six districts, such as Brockmont Park, Royal Boulevard and Rossmoyne, cover more than 850 properties.

But the application for the demolition of a 1954 Ranch-style house in the 1500 block of Valley View Road was deemed complete in February, two months before the district was approved by the City Council, nullifying the preservation rules in this case, city officials said.

The owner of the $1.2-million home, Erick Yepes, said the 4,530-square-foot Spanish Colonial Revival-style home he plans to replace the existing 2,399-square-foot building with will complement the neighborhood's character while giving his family of four space to grow.

"I'm just trying to make the city and my little area as nice as possible," said Yepes, who bought the house in 2005. "We're not creating some Taj Mahal. The house is not going to be an eye sore."

The demolition proposal and new home design were scheduled to go to the city's Design Review Board on Thursday, but it was held after the city received a letter from the Glendale Historical Society raising legal concerns.

Regardless if the design plans were complete before the historic overlay zone took effect, the house was found to be historically significant in January, a month before officials gave the application for a new two-story house the green light, according to the May 8 letter.

California rules mandate that an environmental review be completed before a historic resource is significantly altered, the letter states.

According to a city report, this project was considered exempt from environmental review.

Officials tabled the design review so city attorneys could review legal issues.

The historical society also contends that the city's Historic Preservation Commission, not the Design Review Board should make decisions about this proposed project. Typically, renovations of historic landmarks or properties that lie within a historic district go before the preservation commission. In addition, according to city rules, that commission can review design plans outside of overlay zones on an as needed basis.

Community Development Director Hassan Haghani said the city was aware that this application for demolition was in the works as the historic-district ordinance for Brockmont Park was making its way through City Hall.

Officials may look into revising the historic-preservation ordinance to prevent a similar conflict from happening again, said Jay Platt, historic preservation planner.

Yepes, who has lived in Glendale for 34 years, envisioned raising his 4-year-old and 18-month-old in a newly designed home so they could attend Glendale schools, just like he did. But after spending thousands of dollars so far, he fears his dream home may not become a reality.

"It's just too heartbreaking," he said.



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