Hitch for May-Lane; honor for the mayor

An expired conditional use permit put a glitch in developers' plans to demolish the old Foothill Boulevard May-Lane Motel and put in a strip mall. The property's new owner was a bit surprised and disheartened Thursday night to get little help from the Crescenta Valley Town Council in promoting his hopes to have the expired permit resurrected and “modified” by the city of Glendale's planning department.

Property owner Jacques Massachi went before the Crescenta Valley Town Council during the public comment portion of its meeting, accompanied by former council member Sharon Ravachari, asking the council to write a letter of support for his project to the city of Glendale, based on support the project previously received from a slightly modified configuration of council members.

And, though he got some support from alternate Councilman Charlie Beatty, in the form of a suggestion the council change its response to say it was “not opposed” to the planning department modifying the expired permit to allow it to be post-expiration date-extended, none of the other council members appeared ready to jump on the bandwagon and promote the benefits of the project.

At least not without first talking with the city of Glendale and getting the whole picture in regard to the project. The council agreed instead to contact the city and find out if a written letter would be beneficial to the project. They would then discuss whether or not it will compose such a letter at its March 6 executive committee meeting.

“The irony is, I don't think there's anybody [on the council] against this project,” said councilman Bruce Campbell. However, Campbell expressed, he's opposed to the way the council was “slammed against a wall” and expected “to make a decision now,” by Ragavachari and Massachi's Thursday night request.

Campbell also berated Massachi for missing the permit's August deadline. “I'm astounded. Conditional Use Permits are done all the time. Extensions are done all the time. … Have you done a project like this before? Why didn't you know about the documents? The naiveté that's going on is astounding,” Campbell said.

Massachi took responsibility for his “oversight” in missing the deadline; however, he said the city did not inform him of a deadline, nor did his architect, who was on the project prior to Massachi's purchase of the property two years ago.

The La Crescenta Motel — formerly named the May-Lane Motel — has a long history in the city of La Crescenta. Then- property owner Glen Hine built the motel in about 1946. Hine grew up in Indiana and moved to the west coast after serving as an aircraft mechanic in World War I. He and his wife, Theresa, built a home in Glendale prior to purchasing the La Crescenta land, where they built the hotel, according to “May Lane Motel,” a family history written by the couple's son, Maynard Hine. The motel was named after Maynard and his sister, Alane Hine Vinson.

Glen Hine never completed his vision for the property, which would have included a 1950s diner at the corner of the lot. After Hine's death, in 1964, his family continued to run the motel for about 40 years. Theresa Hine lived there until her death in 1994, when she was 95 years old. When Maynard determined the business was taking too much time away from his young family, he turned the motel over to his sister, according to his writings.

The motel was sold to developer Mike Kobessi in 2002 and plans were approved by the county in 2005 — which are available on the Town Council's Internet web site — to include demolishing the current one-level set of rooms and replacing that with a two-story retail and office structure. An underground parking structure with spaces for 138 vehicles would accompany the planned 40,000-square-foot retail and office building.

About two years ago, after completing most of the county paperwork necessary for the planned teardown and construction — and getting approval from the then-members of the Town Council — Kobessi sold the business to Massachi.

Massachi told the council Thursday night that he has continued to move forward with the project and all of his financing is in place to begin the demolition and construction. Had it not been for the permit expiration, work might already have begun.

Massachi appeared disappointed by the outcome of Thursday's meeting. “I was expecting a different outcome from this group,” he said.

In other business, newly named mayor of the Crescenta Valley Town Council Grace Andrus was honored Thursday night for her recent selection by Assemblyman Anthony Adams to represent his district as 2008 Woman of the Year in the California Women's Legislative Caucus.

The women's caucus initiated the award 21 years ago in an attempt to recognize women for remarkable leadership and contributions to their community. Andrus and other women from various districts across the state will be flown March 10 to the state Capitol in Sacramento for an awards ceremony and luncheon with the governor.

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