City approves Sand Canyon Plaza

Santa Clarita city council last month approved Sand Canyon Plaza, a new development project in Canyon Country that will include 580 residential units, 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and an 85,000 square-foot assisted living facility with up to 140 beds.

At a Sept. 12 council meeting, council members deliberated the pros and cons of the proposed mixed-use project, taking traffic, noise and environmental impacts into consideration. The plan was applauded by community members attending the meeting.

The development, first presented to the city in 2014, is on the northeast corner of Sand Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road. Over the last three years, the developers, led by Tom Clark, held around 25 meetings to get public feedback about the project.

More than 600 community members have given their input during this time, according to Clark. Suggestions from neighbors led to changes intended to address any concerns. “We endorsed and agree with all of them,” Clark said.

The applicant met with the Sand Canyon Homeowners Association, the Canyon Country Advisory Committee and nearby residential communities.

From those meetings, the main concerns were possible traffic and noise, the agenda cited, though there were residents who said they liked the idea of the project as well.

The city’s planning commission approved the project on June 6 and sent it to council members for final consideration.

“Like any proposed mixed-use development project, we have to weigh the balance of impacts,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said. With projects of any size, Smyth said he wants to ensure there is “adequate infrastructure” to accommodate residents in the surrounding area.

He anticipates the main concern from community members will be the impact on traffic because of the added homes and businesses. “For me, I want to talk about traffic and make sure there are adequate mitigations in place because of the location of the property,” the mayor said. “That’s something I want to be sure of.”

“Our staff, the planning commission and the applicant have worked really hard with the community so they feel the project fits with the neighboring area and answers all questions,” Smyth said.

Ensuring there is a sufficient water supply to accommodate the houses and stores will be discussed as well, according to the mayor. He also wants to ensure the schools in the surrounding area are on board with the development, which include Sulphur Springs Elementary School, Mitchell Community Elementary School, Pinetree Community Elementary School and College of the Canyons East Campus.

The assisted living facility will be a welcome addition to the east side of the valley, according to Canyon Country Advisory Committee Chair Alan Ferdman. “I come up here to heartily support this project and I think it’s in the best interest of our community to proceed forward,” he said.

Canyon Country native Ashley Gardino said she was looking forward to the project and brought a group of friends and neighbors who felt the same way. She said it is time for the area to be updated.

“I care about what happens here and I support it,” Gardino said.

The project is going to be “spectacular” for Canyon Country and will bring the area up to the standard of the rest of the city, according to Tracy Hauser, a longtime local realtor.

Hauser said the project will increase the value of homes in the area. “I understand people don’t like to see change and they don’t like when their world turns around,” Hauser said. “We’ve been kind of in the doldrums for too long.”

The project will require alterations to the ridgeline in the hillside, which Councilwoman Marsha McLean said she was not “keen” on.

“If this project is approved, at least blend the colors (of the architecture) into the environment,” she said.

Canyon Country residents want more upscale development and this will provide that, McLean said. One concern was that local residents could could afford to live in it.

Councilman Bob Kellar said he saw the original proposition years ago and said he likes how the project has evolved. “I think it’s going to be a phenomenal improvement to this intersection,” Kellar said.

Kellar asked Clark if there were any specific restaurants that were slated to go into the plaza, and while there are none confirmed, Clark said he anticipated there would be a lot of interest soon. “We’re going to deliver, guaranteed,” Clark said.

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