CALABASAS : Officials to Study Plans for Subdivision

The Calabasas City Council and Planning Commission will hold a joint session tonight to study revised plans for a subdivision by a developer who once successfully blocked Calabasas' effort to incorporate.

The hearing is at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. City officials said the project, called Calabasas Oaks, could go before the Planning Commission by the end of this year.

"It's not a public hearing," said Anna-Lisa Hernandez, the city's associate planner, who is handling the project. "It's a study session. It's strictly to teach."

The proposed 1,200-plus-acre project includes 550 homes at the end of Parkway Calabasas. There would also be a church site and 200,000 square feet of retail space off Las Virgenes Road. As part of the proposal, the developer has deeded 640 acres to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to be preserved as open space.

The applicant, Baldwin Cos.-Village Properties, wants to redesign the site plan to reduce the amount of grading by 400,000 cubic yards of soil, according to Hernandez.

Los Angeles County approved an entitlement to grade about 15 million cubic yards before Calabasas became a city in 1991. Also, the applicant, who obtained permission to remove 1,800 oak trees, Hernandez said, now proposes removing 1,400.

Officials from Baldwin Properties could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The developer, Jim Baldwin, originally wanted to build 1,487 homes, but ran into fierce opposition from area residents, who were represented by the Calabasas Park Homeowners Assn.

Baldwin, saying he does not want to be subject to the whims of a future City Council and laws that had not yet been determined, sought in 1988 to prevent his project from being included in the area of the proposed city. His sister--saying she was an "interested citizen" looking to safeguard county funds--sued to block county funding of brush-fire protection within the limits of the proposed city.

Apparently fearing that the proposed city could not afford to pay a $675,800 fire protection fee to the county, the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission eventually rejected the application for cityhood. Baldwin agreed to support a renewed drive for cityhood in 1990 in exchange for the homeowners association's promise not to oppose the project if it were scaled down to 550 homes.

Bob Ronka, a former member of the association's board of directors, said that, while some hard feelings may remain, the development is "a done deal" as far as the association is concerned.

"This was a development agreement that was agreed to several years ago," said Ronka, who was then a member of the Baldwin Committee, which was organized to fight the development. "It was a hard fight, but we won some of the most important battles."

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