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Santa Clarita Moves Closer to Annexing 969-Acre Area

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The City Council has moved closer to annexing 969 acres, unanimously voting to accept a non-binding agreement that lays the ground rules for the expansion.

Tuesday’s vote affects a tract of uninhabited land located north of the city, between Magic Mountain Parkway, the Valencia Industrial Center, Newhall Ranch Road, Bouquet Canyon Road and Valencia Boulevard.

It is expected to contain residential and commercial development, including a project called Valencia del Lago, a 1,800-unit development to be distinguished by a 14-acre man-made lake. The lakeside project is being developed by the Valencia Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Newhall Land & Farming Co.

The City Council approved a memorandum of understanding with the company, covering public access to the lake, mass transportation, light-rail rights of way and other issues.

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The annexation process could take about a year. Newhall Land and the city said they drew up the memorandum of understanding on basic points to avoid wasting time and effort in negotiating a final agreement.

City officials say the annexation will neither help nor hurt the city’s finances.

Under the agreement, the city will be able, however, to acquire land along the Santa Clara River inside the annexed area, which is to become part of a river trail program already under way.

The city also has obtained assurances that the public will be given access to the proposed lake in the Valencia del Lago project, although the company will retain the right to create private recreation areas in the project area as well.

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The city, in turn, agreed to consider establishing a Community Facilities District or other public financing mechanism that could issue bonds for the construction of public facilities in the annexed area.

“We’re very pleased with it,” said Marlee Lauffer, a spokeswoman for Newhall Land. “We’ve been working with the city for several months.”

The project is one of several being considered by the city. In all, Santa Clarita has 10 annexation projects under consideration, totaling about 2,800 acres, according to Assistant City Manager Ken Pulskamp.

The annexation proposal, Pulskamp said, reflects an interest in “making decisions for the whole urban area, rather than just a gerrymandered boundary that has been manufactured.”

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