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Council to hear development dispute

Contruction of a new street is at the center of debate about hillside home.

July 15, 2010|Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • The site of a private road called Windermere Pl. that would be developed with the The hill side lot at the corner of Hampstead Road and Sugarloaf Drive in La Cañada.
The site of a private road called Windermere Pl. that would… (Scott Smeltzer/Valley…)

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council will hear an appeal Monday of a two-story, hillside development that has embroiled a Flintridge neighborhood.

The proposed 6,836-square-foot house, approved by the Planning Commission in April with a 4-0 vote, is to be built on a trapezoid-shaped, 41,382-square-foot lot between Hampstead Road and Inverness Drive, just south of Sugar Loaf Drive.

The massing of the house, which would stand 117 feet wide and 34 1/2 feet tall, has drawn criticism from neighbors. But the most contentious point of the proposed development is Windermere Place, a 26-foot-wide, 81-foot-long public street to be constructed at the expense of property owner Dr. Philip Merritt but thereafter maintained by the city.

Windermere Place is a "paper road," outlined on maps of Flintridge that date back more than 80 years but never built. Initially, the city refused to process building plans that included the new street in the design.

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But in 2008 Merritt sued, arguing that Windermere Place was legally dedicated and accepted, and that it would be open to the public once completed.

The city settled the suit, agreeing that the development could not be rejected solely because of the proposed street.

Five neighbors filed two separate appeals, contesting the construction of a public road that would service just one home. They have also voiced concern about disruptive construction, intrusive lighting and the removal of oak trees.

"What we are asking the city to do is follow city guidelines the best you can," neighbor and appellant Cecelie Boysen said at the April 27 meeting. "This project is against so many of the guidelines that it is beyond me, and I think most of them can be addressed by different designs of both the city and the house."

The hearing Monday will be the second time in three weeks that the City Council will rule in a contentious residential development proposal. On July 6, the council upheld an appeal and denied development permits for a new two-story house at 2048 Lyans Drive.

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