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Hotel plan meets with disapproval

An appeal from Positive Solutions Association claims city’s planning commission was misled

Posted: July 22, 2009 10:22 p.m.
Updated: July 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
A planned Sheraton hotel in Valencia has hit a roadblock two weeks after receiving a go-ahead from the Santa Clarita Planning Commission.

A group called the Positive Solutions Association filed an appeal to the commission's decision this week.

The commission voted July 7 in favor of Brisam Valencia LLC's request for a conditional-use permit for the 7-story, 200-room hotel, to be located just north of the corner of Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway.

The site is presently home to The Greens sports bar.

The three-page appeal claims city officials "have been misled by this developer," and that the group wants to see a different project on "this strange property."

On Wednesday morning, about 12 to 15 people gathered in front of City Hall for a news conference regarding the appeal.

A remarks sheet handed out by PSA spokesman Donald Stevens declared that the Planning Commission was "taken in" and labeled the Sheraton project as "a highly dubious, speculative proposal."

"Some of the information that the company provided the city ... is potentially misleading," said Stevens, who has lived in the Woodlands tract since 2004.

He noted the use of a wide-angle lens for photographs showing the view from The Woodlands, looking toward the project site. He said the use of a wide-angle lens makes the hotel look less imposing than it would actually be.

"There's a number of things we need to address," he said. "Even a smaller hotel wouldn't impact us near as much."

He said the association was formed in the wake of the Planning Commission's July 7 meeting, after Stevens and several other residents voiced opposition during the public comment period of the meeting.

"We've had 15 days to put this together," he said.

The appeal - with an attached list of 100 signatures of people claiming to be city residents - cites three concerns.

A number of people who signed the petition listed themselves as living in the Woodlands, a development of about 300 homes to the west of the project site.

According to the appeal, the project approval violates the city's municipal code as it pertains to conditional-use permits; the approval "is inconsistent with numerous sections of the (city) General Plan"; and an environmental impact report should be prepared.

Under the city's development code, a conditional-use permit is required for any building taller than 35 feet. The Sheraton would be 77 feet tall, with tower elements bumping the height up to nearly 88 feet.

By comparison, the buildings in Westfield Valencia Town Center range from 60 feet to 99 feet tall.

The appeal will likely come before the City Council in August or September, Planning Manager Lisa Webber said.

The council could: reject the appeal, support the appeal and deny the project, or direct planning staff to work with the developer in making revisions to the plan, Webber said.

"We're prepared to respond to all of the issues (in the appeal)," Webber said. "If (the application) was in violation ... the Planning Commission wouldn't have been able to approve the project."

The developer had hoped to break ground on the hotel by early next year, consultant Jeffrey Lambert said.

"I think they're confident their project is a good project," he said Wednesday.

Lambert did not expect major delays for the development process should the council reject the appeal.

"I don't think it's a significant setback unless a lawsuit is filed," he said.

The hotel will occupy a roughly 4-acre plot bordered by the Galaxy Car Wash, a Shell gas station and Santa Clarita Transit's McBean Regional Transfer Station.

The 136,550-square-foot hotel will be comparable in size to the 244-room Hyatt Valencia several hundred feet to the north.

The hotel will also include a 120-seat restaurant and 7,610 square feet of meeting and banquet space.

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