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New housing project to pay sewage tolls

Posted: July 29, 2008 1:26 a.m.
Updated: September 29, 2008 5:01 a.m.
A proposed housing project backed up for a while over concerns about sewer capacity is moving ahead with final zoning approval expected today.

In April, talks about building at least 40 homes in Canyon Country at the end of Houston Court were slowed when Santa Clarita city planners expressed concern about city sewers used for an unincorporated county project.

Planners working for developer W.L. Homes LLC, met with the city and resolved their outstanding sewer issues.

It wasn't a concern over how much 40 new homeowners would add to existing sewer lines that prompted concerns over capacity.

It was a matter of ownership.

Think of it as a pay toilet.

Developers ended up agreeing to pay an additional fee to the city so that they could use a two-mile section of city sewers to convey sewage from the new housing project to county sewers.

There are bridge tolls.

There are highway tolls.

The agreement between Santa Clarita and W. L. Homes LLC, is a sewage toll, of sorts.

"We met with them several times and now we are going to pay our fair share," said Steve Penn of W.L. Homes.

W.L. Homes is a 10-year-old homebuilding firm based in Newport Beach. It serves first-time buyers and luxury buyers in California and Colorado.

The 42 homes already approved by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission are to be built on about 12 acres, which averages out to three acres per house.

The plan, after hearing from residents in the area, now includes a 1-acre park.

Today, the county Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a zoning permit that would permit building the 42 single-family lots just west of Whites Canyon Road.

The developer is seeking zoning permits to begin grading a hillside on the property and permission to move 100,000 cubic yards of dirt before it begins building.

In April, the board heard arguments from both the county planning commission and from the developer accepting the assertion that the development would not have a significant impact on the environment.
But then there was that two-mile section of city sewer line.

"The city had some concerns, from their perspective, that the developer had not worked on the sewer issues with them," Ramon Cordova, senior planning assistant for the Regional Planning Commission, said Monday, adding that those issues have since been resolved.

"The project received clearance from the Department of Public Works," he said.

Cordova told the board in April that residents sent the developer back to the drawing board to come up with a redesigned park.

"The applicant was directed to redesign the tentative map, increasing the proposed private park to a one-acre minimum, requiring that the proposed private park include a basketball court, picnic tables, shade structure and a playground," Cordova told the board in April.

The only real obstacle to moving forward at that time was "the outstanding sewer area study issues with the city of Santa Clarita," he said.

After that, planners from both the city and the developer met to discuss the impacts of the new development on sewage conveyed by the city.

Last year, then-city Senior Planner Kai Luoma wrote a letter to the planning commission expressing city concerns about the developer using "approximately two miles of city sewer lines."

He stressed in his letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Signal: "The city has not received, reviewed or approved a sewer area study for this project."

Such a study prepared by the developer details, in part, the impact its housing project will have on the sewage it conveys to city lines.

That study was done and approved by the city.

Dave Koontz, associate planner for Santa Clarita, said Monday that all sewer discussions resulted in a positive resolution.


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