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Development might not bear traffic

County hopes to stifle Copper Hill housing project

Posted: February 11, 2009 12:59 a.m.
Updated: February 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
File art of barricade at Benz Road in Saugus. Photo was taken on Sept. 24, 2008. File art of barricade at Benz Road in Saugus. Photo was taken on Sept. 24, 2008.
File art of barricade at Benz Road in Saugus. Photo was taken on Sept. 24, 2008.

County planners hope to stifle a plan to build 484 homes on the unincorporated northern edge of the city of Santa Clarita, The Signal learned Tuesday.

The Corky McMillin Companies, which began in San Diego almost 50 years ago with Macey L. "Corky" McMillin, Jr., continues to thrive under the direction of his surviving sons, Mark and Scott, with a project slated for Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commissioners to vote on today.

Despite the record foreclosures and stalled projects in Santa Clarita Valley, McMillin's plan calls for 484 homes, a park, 30 open-space lots, land set aside for an elementary school, seven debris basins and a water tank, on 452 acres of hilly terrain off the eastern end of Copper Hill Drive.

County planners, worried about urban density, are urging commissioners not to approve the plan.

"Staff is not recommending approval," said Suzie Tae, supervising regional planner of the county's Land Divisions Section. "Essentially, we have concerns about the proposed urban density."

The difference means at least 315 fewer homes with current zoning permitting only 167 homes.

While McMillin plans today to ask commissioners to endorse the zoning change, county staff planners are asking them to just say "no."

The land in question is one of the last open areas between the city and federally protected Angeles National Forest to the north of the valley.

It's about a quarter mile north of Copper Hill Drive and about one mile west of Bouquet Canyon Road, east of Haskell Canyon Road.

Guy Asaro, president of McMillin Homes, said the company continues to flourish because it takes pride in its projects, saying company representatives hold regular discussions with neighbors of the project.

"We have gained market shares in all of our markets and that's because we make a commitment to building homes and to completing the customer experience," said Asaro, reached by phone at his San Diego office.

Home lot sizes planned for the local project vary from 5,500 square feet to about 24,500 square feet each.
Too many homes mean too many cars, opponents say.

Residents living in 484 McMillin homes are expected to drive in and out of the development more than 5,100 times every day, primarily along Street "S," which would intersect at Copper Hill near Benz Road.

"They're good and responsible and empathetic developers who have come to us and have done their best, offering to minimize the impact of their project," said Benz Road spokesman Tony Napoli who met with McMillin recently.

Napoli, who plans on attending today's commission meeting, said McMillin has responded to four specific traffic concerns voiced by Benz Road residents angered over motorists who cut through their neighborhood to access Bouquet Canyon Road from Copper Hill.

"The county should join with Corky McMillin to see what they can do together," he said.


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