Homeowners remain leery of development

LA CRESCENTA — Residents packed the Foothill Builders and Lumber store Thursday evening to express concerns about a proposed three-story building on Foothill Boulevard that they say will block their mountain views and clash with their town’s rural aesthetic.

When Laura Oghlian was looking to buy a home, she had the option of choosing from three houses with the best view of the mountains. She picked a home behind the store at 3522 Foothill Blvd., which she believed had the ultimate outlook.

But she said her view is going to be ruined once the proposed mixed-use office building is erected and takes the place of the store.

“We can see all the mountains covered with snow or smell the mountains,” Oghlian said. “But when they build that building, I am looking into six feet of parking lot.”

The project’s developer, Farshid Khosravi, consultant Rodney Khan and builder Eric Baghdassarian asked Oghlian and more than 40 other residents to attend Thursday’s community meeting to get their feedback and to tell them which stage the project was in.

Khan also asked land-use attorney Joe McHugh to talk to residents about whether the developers were following codes. McHugh said they were.

Khosravi guided the residents on a tour of the store’s surrounding area and showed them where a retaining wall will be built and how far away it would be from their homes.

“It would be a good opportunity for you to see it firsthand,” he said.

But for Oghlian, the tour only highlighted why the project is a bad idea.

“The building’s windows are going to look straight into my backyard and bedroom,” she said.

After the tour, Khan talked to residents about the project’s history and shared some feedback that he has received from the community.

Residents have told Khan to keep the existing building as is; to reuse the building; to make it a one-story or two-story structure; or to make it a three-story facility that looks like a two-story, he said.

The 33,290-square-foot lot, he said, will be used to build a medical office and retail facility.

Khosravi and his team created two designs after taking suggestions from Glendale’s Design Review Board that the building needed to look contemporary and modern, and from residents that the facility should be Spanish or mission-style, Khan said.

But while Khosravi and his team decided to go with a more rustic-style building, the residents remained concerned about the height of the building and the possibility of it blocking their mountain views.

Debate over the height of the building came to a head Feb. 8 when members of the Crescenta Valley Community Assn. tried to use height-measuring balloons to find out its proportions according to the proposed building plans.

Police and fire officials asked the association members to leave the property.

The Design Review Board asked Khosravi and his team to reduce the size of the building to two stories, but resident Nancy Comeau said they ignored the city’s request by maintaining the third floor.

“This is really late in the game to be the calling the community together for the first time,” she told Khan.

Comeau told Khan that she thought it was intimidating that they brought an attorney to speak to them.

McHugh’s comments about how it was not American for people to try to stop someone else’s right to develop, she said, offended her and crossed the line.

“I am so insulted by that,” Comeau said.

But resident Ed Waldheim disagreed with her and said residents, whom he called “not in our backyard folks,” shouldn’t be trying to stop the development.

“You gotta start some place,” he told Khan. “I appreciate you doing this.”

Comeau and her husband, Gary, moved to La Crescenta to live in a small town, he said at the meeting.

The proposed building doesn’t add to the town’s rural style, Gary Comeau said.

“That feels like I am driving through downtown Glendale,” he said.

 VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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