In a rare occurrence, the Chino Hills City Council denied an extension of time for a troubled housing development approved eight years ago in Carbon Canyon but never built.
The 6.6-acre property is on the north side of Pinnacle Road next to the Carriage Hills development.
Tristan Wang, operations manager for Everbright International, LLC, asked the council for a second extension Tuesday on the grounds that the hillside land is challenging with its slopes, trees, wildlife and a seasonal stream.
The Pasadena developer said he took over the project from a previous manager and engineer who were terminated over mismanagement concerns.
He also said Everbright will establish a joint venture with a more experienced firm, Infinity Realty Advisors, to ensure the project’s success.
“The good news is we have discovered all the major issues and we can move forward to complete the project,” Mr. Wang said.
18 more months
After a question from Councilman Art Bennett about when the project would start, Mr. Wang, who works for Hengmao USA, the parent holding company for Everbright, said it would take 18 months to submit a rough grading plan. He added that two years would be a safer estimate.
Mr. Bennett said he didn’t have a reasonable expectation the developer would accomplish the project. “I don’t think they have their ducks in a row,” he said.
After several residents brought up safety concerns about the project’s entrance on Pinnacle Road, tree removal, increased traffic, and environmental issues, city attorney Mark Hensley said the only issue before the council was whether to allow the developer to extend the map.
The council voted 3-1 against the extension, with Mayor Cynthia Moran voting yes and Councilman Ray Marquez recusing himself because he lives 500 feet or less from the project.
Mayor Moran said she voted for the extension because many projects were stalled following the recession and the developer appeared to have made some effort to bring in another developer to assist in moving the project forward.
She said she is very concerned that the city council may have little or no control over the density and layout when a new project is proposed for the property, given the numerous housing bills coming out of the state legislature.
The mayor said these bills will continue to significantly reduce the council’s ability to regulate housing developments.
Not quite dead
Assistant community development director Winston Ward said the project is not dead yet.
A resolution explaining the council’s findings on why it denied the extension will appear on the Sept. 25 council agenda and Everbright will have an opportunity to address the council, he said.
The matter will appear as a consent calendar item on the agenda, which means it will be automatically approved unless a councilmember, the developer, or a member of the community asks for discussion.
Mr. Ward said If the council approves the resolution, the project will die.
He said he could not recall any time in his history with the city that an extension of time request for a tentative map was denied by the city council.
Resident F. Elliot Goldman, who has lived in the nearby Carriage Hills community for 27 years, said the council made the correct decision because the owners of the project offered no good faith explanation for the eight years of delay in moving the project forward since the tentative map was issued.
He said the owners showed made vague promises of a joint venture without providing the council a signed agreement.
Mr. Goldman said the project was flawed because it provided for undersized lots and a traffic pattern that would be a death trap waiting to happen.
“The project detracted from the rural country feel that Chino Hills has always prided itself on and would have an adverse impact on one of the last major rural areas, Carbon Canyon, as well as on the adjacent property owners.”