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Over Neighbors’ Protests, Planners OK 202-Home Project in Saugus

Times Staff Writer

A 202-home development in Saugus was approved by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission on Wednesday, despite protests by nearby residents that the project sets a precedent in the rural, mountainous area.

“There will be other projects now,” Vasquez Canyon resident John Simpson said after the vote. “They’ve sold us down the river.”

The commission voted 3 to 2 to allow Pardee Construction Co. of Los Angeles to build the homes on 360 acres at Cruzon Mesa, a former airstrip, near Vasquez Canyon and Bouquet Canyon roads. Commissioners visited the site Monday.

Commission Chairman Betty Fisher and Commissioner J. Paul Robinson opposed the project.

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“I find the densities are too great for me,” Fisher said.

Last year, a Planning Department hearing officer rejected the development, saying it represented urbanization at a remote location and was not justified. Pardee appealed the decision to the full Planning Commission.

Commissioner Clinton Ternstrom, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley, supported the project, saying the homes will not encroach on neighbors because they will not be seen from Vasquez Canyon Road. He said the developer plans to widen Vasquez Canyon Road and pipe water into the project, which will help the area.

Ternstrom added that he has “deep sympathy for the residents,” who feel their life styles will be disturbed. But, he said, there is no reason to reject the project because no zoning change or general plan amendment was required for it.

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Commissioners Lee Strong and Sadie Clark also voted for the project.

During a public hearing, residents asked the commission to reduce the project’s density.

“I’d like to see it reduced to 46,” resident Patty Simpson said. “The homes are not unique in anything but a tract subdivision.”

She said residents of the rural area with their small farms and ranches should be the precedent for development in the area.

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“I’m going to plead with you to keep the density down as low as possible,” said resident Michael Carr.

After the meeting, Carr said: “I knew we’d lose, but I thought they’d lower the density. I could have lived with 100 houses.”

Carr said residents cannot appeal the commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors because no zone change or general plan amendment was required.

Development coordinator Petros Panagopoulos, of Pardee Construction Co., said the lot size of the homes will average an acre. The homes will be between 1,800 and 3,000 square feet and will sell for $300,000 or more.

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In another matter, the Planning Commission postponed until June 15 a vote on a luxury 332-home gated development in Newhall until the builder, Dale Poe Development Corp., submits an alternate plan that will have less of an effect on the environment.

The planning staff has recommended denial of the project because of the amount of hillside grading that will be required and because of the project’s intrusion into chaparral and oak woodlands areas. The development is on a 262-acre site on Pico Canyon Road a mile west of the Golden State Freeway.

Also, the commission rejected a proposed agreement with the J.B.H. Development Co. that would have guaranteed the company development rights for 20 years to a 424.5-acre parcel near Soledad Canyon Road and Shadow Pines Boulevard in Canyon Country. The company has proposed building 637 single-family homes, nine estate-size homes and commercial property on the site.


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