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Controversial appeal before City Council

Dead son’s father says decision by commission on subdivision of property unduly influenced

Posted: November 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.

A father’s quest to build his dead son’s dream house now lies in the hands of Santa Clarita City Council members, who will hear his appeal during this week’s council meeting.

Michael Hairell will appear before the City Council on Tuesday to contest an earlier decision from the city’s Planning Commission, which ruled that a subdivision of the property at 24837 Quigley Canyon Road would violate both the city’s oak tree ordinance and the special standards district for Placerita Canyon.

The Placerita Canyon special standards district restricts certain kinds of development to maintain the area’s equestrian and rural character.

The project’s original applicant, Hairell’s son Curtis, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in September.

Hairell has alleged the Planning Commission’s decision to deny the project was unduly influenced by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones, who lives adjacent to the property and was among the vocal opponents of the development.

City staff members have recommended the council grant Hairell’s appeal. However, city staff also recommended that the Planning Commission approve the project when it was originally in front of the commission in September.

Hairell’s property will not be the only one under scrutiny Tuesday.

Council members will also once again weigh changes to the city’s historic-preservation ordinance.

After a Sept. 25 public hearing, council members said it was necessary to provide an opt-in clause, whereby owners could determine whether they want their properties designated as historic.

This was done, council members said, to preserve citizens’ private property rights.

But council members also said the city should provide some sort of incentive to convince owners of historic properties to opt into the designation.

The revised ordinance contains both of those recommendations, and would allow the city to provide financial incentives to convince property owners to accept the designation.

Property owners would be allowed to apply to opt out of the historic designation but if they do so they would have to reimburse the city for any financial incentives received.

The revised ordinance also designates portions of nine properties, around 15 total structures, as historic.

Those structures include the Newhall Ice Co. building, the Santa Clarita Courthouse, the Old Newhall Jail and seven structures in Newhall’s Heritage Junction.



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