One less tree removed, one less home built for Lyons Canyon Project

Oak trees on a currently undeveloped piece of land off of the Old Road and Sagecrest Circle will be removed to make way for a development. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

When regional planners review a project calling for 92 homes and 93 condos for seniors on The Old Road in Newhall, they’ll find the developer has reduced his carbon footprint — one house at a time, one tree at a time.

On Tuesday, officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning are scheduled to approve a one-year time extension for the Lyons Canyon Project as requested by  developer D. R. Horton’s Western Pacific Housing Inc.

When they open the file, they’ll find a request to build 92 single-family homes — one less home than originally requested.

Planners will also find a request to cut down 147 oak trees instead of the 162 they originally wanted to remove.

And, instead of encroaching on 54 oak trees, Horton seeks permission to encroach on just 53 oak trees.

The new plan calls for two recreational lots instead of just the one that was initially proposed.

The Lyons Canyon Project is located on about 232 acres immediately west of The Old Road and north of the intersection of The Old Road and Calgrove Boulevard in the unincorporated County of Los Angeles area of Santa Clarita.

Planners, who granted a one-year extension on the project a year ago, did so when the decade-old plan called for 107 lots.

On Tuesday, they’ll find the plan now calls for 111 lots but with more of the land earmarked for open space.

The amended plan now calls for five open space lots.

In 2006, DR Horton’s Western Pacific Housing Inc., submitted a proposal to the county’s Regional Planning Commission calling for 93 single-family lots and 93 condos, all intended for seniors, on 234 acres, next door to the Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon, on The Old Road.

The proposal initially sought permission to rip out 162 smaller oak trees, transplant 13 big oaks already on the land and get permission from the county to encroach on another 52 oaks, six of which are also classified as heritage oaks.

That plan was met with opposition on July 16, 2008, when a handful of oak tree advocates made the trip to downtown Los Angeles to voice their opposition to the planned tree-cutting before the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission.

Heritage oaks are scenic or older oaks under the county definition.

A heritage oak is often defined as a living native oak tree, several hundred years old, that is in good health.

Some heritage oaks have trunks with a circumference of more than 100 inches, but some have smaller trunks. Some very old oaks are tall, and some are quite short. The correlation between size and age is not straightforward when it comes to trees.

The health condition of trees is usually the deciding factor in determining the need for trees to be cut down.

Tuesday’s hearing is open to the public beginning at 9 a.m. in Room 150 in the Hall of Records, 320 West Temple St., Los Angeles.

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