Walnut City Council Sends Six-Home Development Back to Planning Commission

Residents who live adjacent to the proposed project had appealed the Planning Commission's approval of the development's tentative tract map.

Residents opposed to a proposed six-home residential development got a reprieve Wednesday night when the Walnut City Council voted 5-0 to sustain their appeal and send the matter back to the Planning Commission.

Three homeowners had objected to the commission's approval of a tentative tract map for a 5.14-acre site near Silver Valley Trail and Cantel Place on the grounds that the project violates the city's tree preservation ordinance and goes against the rural overlay long established for the area.

Resident Linda Wilford said that the 13 trees on the property, 10 of which are the protected black walnut trees, are either on a list to be removed or one calling for them to be left in place or relocated.  That means that none of them are protected, she said.

"The developer should be required to incorporate the trees into the development plan, not just mow over them," she said.

Han Harijanto, the developer, said that the number of trees potentially affected is three, not 13.  He said two of those three were damaged in a recent fire. The project will be developed around the remaining trees, he said.

In November, the commission voted 3-0 to approve the tentative tract map for the site, enabling the developer to move forward with the project, but mandated he return to the city to get a permit before removing or relocating any of the protected walnut trees on the land.

The commission also stipulated that Harijanto would have to hire an independent arborist to assess the trees.

Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Tragarz Wednesday night suggested that the developer, the residents, and an engineer appellant Richard Worth hired get together and make some modifications discussed at the meeting to the plan.

However, City Attorney Michael Montgomery said suggestions the appellants made regarding grading, the addition of block walls, and alterations to a cul-de-sac in the plan could not be approved by the council.

Any proposed amendments to the subdivision legally would need to be reviewed by staff and the commission, Montgomery said.

Besides concerns about the project, one of the appellants, Carol Coy, also mentioned the cost of the appeal - $919.50.

She called it an "unhappy surprise" and said the cost to appeal is nearly half of the original developer fees.

"I doubt many residents are willing to pay appeal fees like this and believe that it stifles open discussion and good government," she said.

Montgomery said the reason that the fees are what they are is to help prevent frivolous appeals.

"We have to pt a lot of staff time into these appeals," he said.  "It's not a punitive matter. It's a fiscally prudent matter."

Michael December 13, 2013 at 01:13 AM
This is private property, if they want to build some nice home for families, why does the government have to stop everything. I thought private property rights were respected in the USA.
Vito Spago December 13, 2013 at 06:19 AM
I know you are being sarcastic. This owner is destroying the nature of Walnut to make a quick buck. Also it has been years since property rights have meant anything. Eminent domain and property taxes are two areas where property rights do not mean a thing. I will be glad when this RE bubble pops. Sick of mom and pop playing RE mogul. You want to get rich, start a business or get in the stock market but quit playing small time Donald Trump.
Ray Russell December 13, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Wow soon Walnut won't have any of the trees that the city is named after left! Vito that sounds kind of Third World ish!


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