GCC contracts with law firm to assess environmental impact of Garfield expansion project

Glendale Community College officials continue to wait to hear from several residents living near the school’s Garfield campus about whether they would be interested in selling their properties to the college so it can move forward with an expansion project.

In the meantime, the college contracted last week with Los Angeles-based law firm R. Bruce Tepper to assess environmental impacts related to the possible expansion.

Previously, the school signed a contract with Glendale-based California Eminent Domain Law Group. While the college is contracting with a law firm that deals in eminent domain issues, David Viar, superintendent/president of the college, has said he is hopeful the property owners will not have to be forced to sell.

R. Bruce Tepper’s services will cost $535 per hour, according to a staff report.

“There is a requirement if we do go in that direction [to purchase nearby properties], we need to pursue an environmental review about how that acquisition will impact surrounding communities,” said Anthony Culpepper, executive vice president of administrative services for Glendale Community College, in a phone interview Wednesday.

If it’s determined an environmental review isn’t needed, the college will continue with the acquisition process, Culpepper said.

The college has been looking to expand its south Glendale campus by upgrading its infrastructure, classrooms and technology as well as buying nearby properties with funds from Measure GC, a $325-million facilities bond approved by voters last year.

Earlier this year, the college sent letters to 14 owners of properties on the same block as the Garfield campus, gauging their interest in selling to the college.

The properties are located on South Chevy Chase Drive, East Garfield Avenue, South Adams Street and East Acacia Avenue.

Culpepper said they have heard from “a couple individuals who asked inquisitive questions, and we haven’t heard any negative comments.”

Asked whether there is a timeline for the Garfield expansion project, Culpepper said college officials don’t have a set schedule, but they are aware the bond money must be spent within a three-year time frame.

Earlier this year, Culpepper said via email that the letters sent to residents state that once appraisals have been completed, college officials will consider making offers “that are equivalent to the appraisal valuation of the relevant property.”

He added, “If any of these residential properties are purchased by the college, the college will meet the relocation needs of those who presently reside in the properties.”

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