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Owners can tear down house in Brockmont historic district

A home in the recently formed Brockmont Park Historic District can be demolished after the Glendale City Council voted Tuesday to overturn the denial for a request to demolish the home, siding with the homeowners who want to build a bigger house because their plans were underway before the district’s historic designation.

Project designs initially began in 2011 to replace the one-story 2,399-square-foot ranch-style residence in the 1500 block of Valley View Road with a two-story 4,530-square-foot Spanish Colonial revival-style home and a 700-square-foot garage.

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The application for the project was deemed complete in February and scheduled to go before the Design Review Board for consideration in early May, but at the last minute the item was redirected to the Historic Preservation Commission, which ultimately denied demolition.

The homeowners, Erik and Kristina Kaminski Yepes, said they were shocked when they heard of the move that came just days before the historical designation in the Brockmont area for homes built between 1910 and 1954 — which the council had approved a month earlier — went into effect on May 8.

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Councilman Ara Najarian said the matter was not a slippery slope and that the applicants were treated unfairly after working closely with the city on their project.

“It’s hard for me to put any fault on the Yepeses,” he said. “They have done everything that they needed to do.”

Najarian, along with Councilman Dave Weaver, approved to overturn the commission’s decision while Councilwoman Paula Devine cast the sole dissenting vote.

Mayor Zareh Sinanyan was absent from the meeting and Councilwoman Laura Friedman recused herself from the discussion because she lives near the home in question.

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During the council meeting, members of the Glendale Historical Society voiced opposition to tearing down the property, built in 1954, and contended the project would require a California Environmental Quality Act review, given its historical status.

But the structure is exempt because a city analysis determined the site did not meet any of the necessary criteria to be categorized as a historic resource, according to a staff report.

And just because a house is in a historic district does not mean it can’t be demolished, said Community Development Director Hassan Haghani in a phone interview on Wednesday.

The house is one of 52 contributing homes in the Brockmont district. Within the district, 88% of the homes are historic, well-above the 60% threshold required for historic designation.

Devine said she voted to reject the appeal because she sought to protect integrity of the historic neighborhood and the proposed project had no vested right for demolition.

“I have to look at the entire community and who will be harmed more, where the largest negative impact will be and that is on the community because the community is going to lose trust in the council and our intent to save our historic buildings and districts,” she said.

With council approval on their side, the next step for the Yepes family would be to apply for building permits.

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