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Oakmont developer willing to build cemetery or fewer homes.

February 25, 2000

Buck Wargo

CITY HALL -- Developers of the proposed 572-home Oakmont View V

project are willing to build 90 fewer homes or opt for a cemetery, but

opponents aren't softening their opposition.

On Wednesday, Gregg Development of Glendale submitted plans to the

Glendale Planning Department calling for construction of 482

single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes on the 238-acre hillside

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site. Gregg also submitted a separate application to convert the open

space into a cemetery.

"We always wanted to build homes, but we thought a cemetery may be

feasible," said Gregg Development Vice President Lee Gregg. "We have now

come to the conclusion that is an acceptable use of the property."

Both the plans for 482 homes and a cemetery would still require

massive hillside grading in the Verdugo Mountains and the removal of oak

trees. Anti-hillside development groups don't want to alter the landscape

and aren't willing to accept more than 50 homes -- a suggestion Gregg

officials said is not feasible.

"There will be fewer trees cut and less grading, but when you look at

the volume of the impact, you are still looking at a nude mountain either

way," said Max Hobbs, vice president of Volunteers Organized in

Preserving the Environment, a group that wants to preserve the property

as open space.

Living next to a cemetery could cause some residents to pack up and

leave, Hobbs said.

"It would be very depressing," he said.

Gregg said he didn't expect the leadership of VOICE and other groups

to accept the company's olive branch. He said the new plans will give the

City Council a wider range of options to address council member concerns.

The 572-home development, which remains Gregg's No. 1 choice, would

grade 5.5-million cubic yards of dirt. That drops to 3-million cubic

yards for 482 homes and 3.4-million cubic yards for a cemetery. About 16

more acres are preserved, Gregg said.

"There are always people who oppose everything," Gregg said. "It shows

we are willing to go to great lengths to satisfy some of the concerns of

residents. People are worried about putting too many kids into the

schools. There are no kids with a cemetery."

The new proposals have opponents wondering what Gregg officials are up

to now. The alternatives were submitted days before the March 6 hearing

in which the City Council will hear testimony on a study that analyzes

the environmental impact on a whole range of projects, including 572 and

482 homes and a cemetery. Gregg Development suggested the cemetery be

included in the environmental study.

"It is a little surprising the developer would make these filings at

this time," Hobbs said. "It looks like the developer wants the City

Council to vote up or down on the most environmentally disruptive

alternatives. ... This adds another new wrinkle, but that is to be

expected. We are going to have our same presentation on March 6. Our

concerns will be the same."

"We are going to sit down and see where this fits in," said City

Planner Dave Bobardt. "That is our big assignment now."

Gregg Development has a court agreement with the city that allows the

company to submit plans for 572 and 390 homes under pre-1993 ordinances

that allowed more hillside grading. Bobardt said it isn't known whether

the plans for 482 homes and a cemetery would have to follow the more

restrictive 1993 Hillside Development Ordinance.

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