A handful of activists gathered on the sidewalk in front of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Monday morning to announce their intent to appeal a judgment handed down in February that upheld the environmental impact report filed by the city for the hospital expansion.
They also wanted the community to know that G&L Realty, the developer behind the expansion project, has made significant contributions to winners of the recent City Council race and that they object to a new medical building that will replace the Coldwell Banker real estate office on the corner of McBean Parkway and Singing Hills.
SCOPE member Cam Noltmeyer called the Singing Hills office building part of the expansion's "domino effect."
SCOPE spokesperson Lynne Plambeck explained that the group "thinks the judge was just plain wrong" when the Superior Court jurist ruled against them.
"We've worked on this issue for three years," she said. "The judge said the city did not have to mitigate for greenhouse emissions, but we have state law AB32 that says they have to mitigate. How can they build new developments without meeting greenhouse gas standards?"
SCOPE also claims that increased traffic in the area was not considered when the multi-structure expansion was approved, nor was the current vacancy rate for professional buildings.
"We have a 20 percent vacancy rate in Santa Clarita, and that's too high," Plambeck said. "Why wasn't it downsized to meet our community standards?"
Construction on the hospital project has commenced and will continue, according to Santa Clarita Planning Manager Lisa Weber.
"Since there is no injunction (from the court), construction is proceeding," she said. "They can appeal, that is their legal right and they've done it with other projects in the valley.
She pointed out that SCOPE has a history of filing lawsuits objecting to projects such as the Gate-King Project in Newhall. The group has also tried to stop several developments by Newhall Land.
"The judge made a strong ruling in favor of the City," she continued. "We spent the time and worked closely with a comprehensive team of technical professionals to address the project's environmental impact."
Weber offered as an example that the EIR was circulated four times and included all comments and responses to comments, resulting in a multi-volume document. She said that "dozens of public hearings" were held and issues raised were addressed and documented as part of the EIR, even including changes when new information came to light or circumstances changed or the community requested additional review time.
The Singing Hills project is being proposed by BG Capital and would be a medical office building with portions of the building 58 feet in height, which is in compliance with the area's current commercial neighborhood zone. The project requires a Conditional Use Permit for two reasons; one because the height exceeds the 35-foot citywide limit and two because the planned project exceeds developing more of the property than is traditionally used (43 percent compared to 35 percent).
The plan includes two levels of subterranean parking and Weber stressed that there were portions of the building would appear to be a two-story building because of the varied topography of the parcel.
Weber said that the project will go before the Planning Commission some time in the summer, but they were waiting for some technical documents before a date could be set. Developer BG Capital has hosted community meetings about the project and the Our Valley, Our Vision group has placed the project in the social networking spotlight, holding a meeting last week to discuss their approach. No city-hosted community meetings have been held, but Weber said they are a part of the approval process and will be held in the future.