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Montebello OKs Public Review for Most Development Plans

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The City Council, which is trying to control development, has created another hurdle for developers who want to build in the city.

The council last week unanimously passed a zoning amendment requiring that the city Planning Commission hold formal hearings on most development proposals to allow neighbors to air concerns.

The review process will give the Planning Commission a chance to check the compatibility of the project with neighboring areas and require that plans be changed if necessary.

“Everything is getting so crowded,” Mayor Ed Pizzorno said. “Just about everything built infringes on neighboring property.”

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Planning Director Paul Deibel said the amendment requires hearings for residential projects with three units or more. Also, commercial or industrial projects of more than 5,000 square feet are required to undergo a public site review.

The projects must also undergo an environmental review that, until now, was conducted only for larger projects, he said.

In the past, development plans that met code requirements needed approval only by the Planning Commission, and residents were allowed to comment only if the developer was asking for a conditional-use permit, Deibel said. That practice has angered more than a few residents, who complained that they were surprised to find that the empty field or single-family home next door was being replaced with an apartment building.

Last week’s action was one of several steps taken recently by the council to control growth, including a yearlong moratorium on duplexes and apartments in some residential areas.

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During the last two years, developers have flocked to Montebello, which has become increasingly attractive, especially to young families from East Los Angeles. Montebello has surpassed its 1988 level of building applications and has nearly reached 1989 levels.

City leaders have expressed concern that uncontrolled development will overtax water and sewer systems, increase traffic, and destroy the character of the city.

Pizzorno said the council has also asked city staff members to set up an architectural review board to monitor the quality of developments.


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