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County to re-examine fees charged to developer

Development: Hunt Williams expresses concern to board over fees proposed for road alterations

Posted: July 28, 2011 10:30 a.m.
Updated: July 28, 2011 10:30 a.m.
 

County officials have promised to take a second look at the fees they plan to charge a Castaic land developer for bridge building and road repairs in the area of Highway 126 and The Old Road.

At a public hearing of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week, Commerce Court developer Hunt Williams expressed concern over how county officials calculated the fees they plan to issue for road alteration.

The fees — earmarked for a west-side bridge and major thoroughfare construction fee district — are similar to developer fees and charged specifically to developers.

Williams is general partner of Sterling Gateway, which owns about 117 acres of land that has been in the Williams family for 50 years, he said. The land is at the western edge of the Santa Clarita Valley.

The property at Commerce Court, once considered as the site for a Castaic high school, was approved by the county for 1.3 million square feet of industrial buildings.

“We plan to build these over the next three to five years,” Williams said during the public hearing Tuesday. “When completed, our project will provide 3,000 direct new jobs to the Santa Clarita area.

“We’re not happy with the developer fees, but we acknowledge to pay our fair share or the infrastructure costs.”

Williams told supervisors that the bridge and thoroughfare district’s method of calculating fees is “fatally flawed.”

He wants the county to take a second look at 53 acres of open space included in the assessment, which he says cannot be considered industrial development.

“We respectfully request the board modify the plan,” Williams said.

Edel Vizcarra, planning deputy for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, said the county will continue to work with Williams but noted the developer did not include the details of his open space for reduced-fee consideration, as is normally done by other developers.

“He didn’t record his open-space details,” Vizcarra said Wednesday. “He could have done it, and he still can — and when he does, the fees drop.”

Steve Burger, assistant division head for land development at the county’s Department of Public Works, told the board Tuesday in response to Williams’ concerns: “Obviously, if it’s not going to be used for industrial purposes, then we wouldn’t be charging him for that.

“The department has committed and will continue to work with Mr. Williams,” Burger said, “and continue to try to resolve any of his concerns in a manner that’s fair to everyone.”

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