Concern about flooding, fires and traffic have once again thwarted development in Whittier's Worsham Canyon.
For the third time in 15 years, the City Council has rejected a proposed housing tract, saying developers lacked the necessary space to create a flood-control system. Council members also said they were concerned about Fire Department access to the development, which would have a single access road.
The council's 4-1 vote to reject the proposed 32-house tract was seen as a victory for environmentalists, who have taken an interest in the canyon with its natural stream bed and wildlife.
Even the lone dissenter, Councilman Greg Nordbak, says he would like to see the canyon remain undeveloped. "In my heart I would like to see us buy the canyon and leave it alone," Nordbak said. "But I voted for the development because I felt we had an obligation" to landowners who offer reasonable development plans.
Flood-control concerns have been cited every time the city has rejected development proposals, City Manager Tom Mauk said.
But Richard Coleman, attorney for the landowners, called flood-control concerns "a red herring."
"It is my belief that there isn't any plan that would be approved," Coleman said. He represents the Albert Levinson estate, which owns the 18-acre site.
Landowners appealed to the City Council after the city Planning Commission rejected the proposed development.