Committee looks at Foothill

NORTH GLENDALE — Area stakeholders with competing viewpoints came together Monday for a frank discussion on the future for development in the North Glendale annex of the Crescenta Valley.

The 34-person North Glendale Community Plan Advisory Committee, made up of a variety of residents, commissioners, business owners and other stakeholders, is charged with formulating recommendations — especially regarding the most contentious issues — for the Planning Commission, and ultimately the City Council.

In the second of a series of bi-weekly meetings from August through November, committee members turned their attention to the one of the area’s more contentious issues — the future of business development around Foothill Boulevard, Sparr Heights, and Honolulu and Pennsylvania avenues.

“We want to have them tell us what their vision is,” said Laura Stotler, principal planner with the city.

Monday’s meeting was part of a process that began last August when the City Council directed the Planning Department to study the North Glendale area in response to concerns from Crescenta Valley residents who wanted to preserve their area’s rural feel and mountain views from encroaching development.

Once finished, the plan will provide new development guidelines for land use, transportation, parks and open space, community services, infrastructure, and sustainability, as well as design and zoning standards, for North Glendale.

On Monday at the Montrose-Crescenta Branch Library, the committee was broken up into three groups to discuss big picture ideas that Principal Urban Planner Alan Loomis prefaced with a rundown on various types of business districts, from small village centers to lengthy corridors.

While the majority of community concerns seem to focus on design and zoning details, such as paint colors and use of landscaping, these can only be addressed once the larger land-use issues are discussed, Stotler said.

“You can’t discuss those smaller details until you decide where you want to go,” she said.

Last year, the council authorized roughly $6,000 to solicit public input from area residents on crafting a community plan, initiating more than 30 meetings between planning officials and residents, homeowner associations, business owners and other groups, including four community meetings throughout the North Glendale area.

Residents generally agreed on preserving the area’s unique small-town feel and on the need for beautification efforts along Foothill Boulevard, with commercial development and potential zoning changes on Foothill Boulevard emerging as the single most pressing issue.

Foothill development has been controversial — a proposed three story mixed-use project, which was denied by the City Council last month after massive public outcry, as the latest example.

Many residents support limiting commercial buildings to two stories and refining the guidelines to ensure compatibility with the area’s rural feel.

But developers, Realtors and other local business owners counter too many restrictions will hamper much needed development in the area.

Officials have said the purpose of the advisory committee is to flesh out competing viewpoints in an attempt to reach consensus.

On Monday, stakeholders acknowledged the process would require give and take.

“For any of this to work, you’ve got to compromise,” Pete Smith of Bob Smith Toyota said to the group of committee members.

Stotler said she would be surprised if a complete consensus was reached, but said the in-depth discussion of a big picture plan for the future would be of value to the community.

“We frankly have never had this discussion,” she said. “That’s why this is such an exciting process.”

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