Builder of Controversial Project Hires City Planner

Lancaster's planning director has taken a job as a vice president of an Encino-based development company whose controversial 2,400-home development proposal in semi-rural western Lancaster was approved by the city last month.

Community Development Director Steve Harding said Friday he will leave his $72,500 post May 7 for a substantially better-paid post as vice president and project manager with The Larwin Co., developer of the 885-acre Del Sur Ranch project that received final council approval March 5. Harding said the change has nothing to do with the Del Sur project and that his discussions with Larwin began only after the development was approved.

The switch, which comes 14 months after Harding took the city job, drew criticism from a leading Lancaster slow-growth activist and prompted one City Council member to say the council should discuss the move.

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