In an unexpected move, the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission followed the lead of its newest member Wednesday and raised questions that delayed approval of a Newhall industrial park that had received a tentative go-ahead.
As proposed, the 212-acre project, designed by the powerful Valencia Co., would include 42 industrial lots, two commercial corners and a high school that would be paid for by the crowded William S. Hart Union High School District. The project has been moving steadily through county channels for two years.
But commissioners voted 3 to 1 to delay consideration of the project for a month while the Valencia Co. prepares to answer questions posed primarily by Commissioner Richard Wulliger. Wulliger, who began his term with the commission last week, expressed concerns about the project’s massive grading of hillsides, removal of 55 oak trees, and siting of a high school near industrial wastes and next to an earthquake fault.
“When I look at things, I add up the benefits and I add up the burdens,” Wulliger said. “I can see a lot of benefits to this project, but the burdens far outweigh them.”
After prompting the discussion that led to the delay, Wulliger voted against waiting a month, saying he was ready to turn down the project immediately. Wulliger, a probate attorney, was appointed by Supervisor Ed Edelman to fill a vacancy created when Betty Fisher resigned to take a job with the city of Los Angeles.
The commission seemed poised to approve the industrial park north of the present western end of Newhall Ranch Road until Wulliger voiced his objections. Vice Chairwoman Sadie B. Clark had even called for a 10-minute recess so that the county planning staff could try to assuage concerns raised by a representative of the city of Santa Clarita.
But after Wulliger’s speech, Commissioner Clinton Ternstrom said he thought that the additional questions justified a delay.
“There should be a response, in written form,” he said.
Commissioner Lee Strong said he believed that the project was being pushed through too quickly. Clark said she preferred a delay to Wulliger’s suggestion that the project be denied.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Santa Clarita Community Development Director Lynn M. Harris said that while the city does not oppose the project overall, she welcomed the opportunity for further review.
In a letter delivered to commissioners Wednesday, Harris asked them to require the Valencia Co. to redesign the project to preserve the oak trees, make additional improvements on nearby roads and evaluate more thoroughly the environmental impact of the proposed grading.
Representatives of the Valencia Co. left the commission chambers shaking their heads. Ronald R. Horn, executive vice president of the engineering firm Sikand, which has evaluated the site for the Valencia Co., said Wulliger’s questions are answered in the environmental impact report.
“It all really is already there, in the information we gave them, in the EIR,” Horn said.
The industrial park received preliminary approval from the commission in early 1989 when the panel approved a zone change from agricultural to industrial uses and a plan amendment that would allow construction of the high school, planning Administrator John Schwarze said.
On Wednesday, the Valencia Co.--the development arm of Newhall Land & Farming Co.--was seeking permits to allow removal of the oaks, grading of 7.4 million cubic yards of hillsides and dividing of the property into 42 industrial lots.