Torrance Builder Rips Environmentalists : Buy-Back Clause Disputed in Effort to Deed Madrona Wetlands to City

Times Staff Writer

Developer Guilford Glazer lashed out at environmentalists Tuesday, saying they are hampering agreement on the city's deed to the Madrona Marsh wetlands.

"Never has it been so difficult to give away a piece of land," said Glazer, one of several partners in the Park Del Amo project, a residential-commercial development that abuts the marsh. "We're talking about a piece of land that is worth $25 million to $30 million. Either it is a marsh or we take it back."

City officials, members of a local environmental group called Friends of Madrona Marsh and developers have debated the wording of the deed to 34.4 acres of the marsh for more than a year. Two years ago developers had agreed to donate that land and sell to the city an additional 8.5 acres for $1.5 million in exchange for approval to build 1,482 residential units and 850,000 square feet of commercial space on a 182-acre site at Sepulveda Boulevard and Madrona Avenue.

The city obtained the deed to the 8.5 acres in May.

Buy-Back Clause

At issue Tuesday night was two proposed deeds to the marsh. One included a clause that would allow developers to buy back the land for $100 if the marsh dried up, the other excluded that clause. City Atty. Stanley Remelmeyer warned the council that the developers would not accept a deed without the clause, and if the council chose that option it would probably end up in court.

The City Council met privately for about 20 minutes and then voted in public to form a task force, headed by Mayor Jim Armstrong, to meet with Remelmeyer and attorneys for the developers to work out a compromise. Armstrong said they would attempt to bring back to the council a new resolution next week, and no later than two weeks.

The agreement two years ago ended a 10-year fight with environmentalists who sought to save the marsh, one of the last remaining stopping grounds in the area for migrating birds and other wildlife.

Glazer made his remarks after representatives of Friends of Madrona Marsh urged the city not to adopt the resolution that would have allowed the developers to buy back the 34.4 acres if the marsh ever ceased to be used as a wildlife preserve.

Georgean Griswold, president of the environmentalist group, urged the City Council to adopt a resolution without the buy-back option and said the city should pursue legal efforts if necessary to protect the marsh.

Glazer responded by saying the Friends were engaging in an "incredible ripping-apart of the documents. The document is precise, it is clean. If they don't understand that, they don't understand the English language. What they are talking is gobbledygook.

"It's time to resolve it. We're fed up."

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