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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Planned Development Gets 3rd Extension

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

A developer who has not begun building a 2,500-home community approved four years ago has received another one-year extension on his proposal, despite objections from nearby residents, the Lancaster city staff and two City Council members.

A majority of the council--Mayor Frank Roberts and Councilmen Henry Hearns and George Runner--voted Monday to keep the Encino-based Larwin Co.’s Del Sur Ranch development agreement alive for one more year.

Although Larwin had violated its 1990 agreement by failing to start construction, the council majority thought the company deserved another chance because of the problems it had encountered during the economic recession and in arranging water and sewer service.

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“I’m inclined to be very compassionate to a company like Larwin,” said Roberts about the company that has built numerous houses in the Antelope Valley.

Hearns also agreed to the extension but added, “I hope they won’t ask me to do this again.”

The company had received extensions twice previously.

In their previous roles as homeowner activists, newly elected council members Michael Singer and Deborah Shelton had criticized the Del Sur project. They voted against the extension Monday.

Singer said he believed the problem was not with the economy in general but that the Del Sur community was too expensive to build. “I don’t think this a feasible project,” he said.

As proposed, the Del Sur Ranch development would extend over 880 acres in the far northwest corner of Lancaster, bounded roughly by Avenue G, 90th Street West, Avenue H-8 and 105 Street West. The development agreement gives Larwin the right to build 2,500 dwellings under city rules that were in effect four or five years ago.

Critics have complained that Del Sur Ranch is so far from central Lancaster it will cost the city too much to provide services to the homeowners. Current residents of the nearby Antelope Acres community have complained that Del Sur Ranch would spoil the rural character of their area.

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But others believe the project would be an asset to the city. Last year, the council approved a revised Del Sur plan that added a 21-acre private lake and replaced many larger lots with smaller parcels.

This year, Brian N. Hawley, the city’s community development director, urged the council to terminate the Del Sur agreement because Larwin had not begun building any of the houses.

But J. Michael Nolte, Larwin’s executive vice president, told the council that the project was being delayed largely by county sewer and water agencies that are beyond the company’s control.

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