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Windermere decision delayed

Lack of quorum leaves council unable to proceed.

October 07, 2010|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com

A final decision on the Windermere project was delayed Monday because absences and a conflict of interest left just two council members available to review the proposed hillside development.

Councilmember Laura Olhasso and Mayor Pro Tem Gregory Brown were absent from the La Cañada Flintridge City Council meeting due to travel and an illness, respectively. And Councilmember Steve Del Guercio recused himself from deliberations because of a professional conflict of interest, leaving the council without a quorum, the voting majority needed to conduct official city business.

Dr. Philip Merritt, a longtime La Cañada resident, is seeking to build a two-story, 7,447-square-foot house on an empty 1-acre lot between Hampstead Road and Iverness Drive, just south of Sugar Loaf Drive. In addition, Merritt wants to access his new home by Windermere Place, an undeveloped public street that was drawn onto maps that date to the 1920s but never actually built. The street would be constructed at Merritt's expense and then handed over to the city for maintenance.

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After some legal wrangling and multiple iterations of the project, the La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission approved the development in April. But four neighbors filed two appeals seeking to block it.

On Aug. 1, council members agreed with the appellants and directed the applicant to reduce the square footage of the house before resubmitting the project.

On Monday, Merritt and his attorney, Arnold Graham, described the delay as unprofessional, and said they found Brown's absence suspicious. They also suggested that the council had lost its authority to decide the project because they did not act within a timely manner as dictated by city code.

City staff said the Windermere project would be rescheduled for the next city council meeting on Oct. 19.

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