Planning Commission OKs 93 condos on Dockweiler Drive

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The Newhall residential community is about to grow with the addition of nearly 100 condominiums after the Santa Clarita Planning Commission approved their construction on Tuesday. 

The project consists of 93 detached, single-family homes on a 19.39-acre site at the southwest corner of Dockweiler Drive and Sierra Highway. Although the units will be detached, technically they will be considered condominiums, in which the buyers will own the residential space but not the actual structure. 

Units will each be two stories in height with a floor area ranging from 2,050 to 2,450 square feet and include amenities such as a two-car garage, a community outdoor swimming pool and a 10-foot sidewalk trail along Sierra Highway. 

In 2006, the project was originally submitted as a request to allow for 213 residential units on 113 acres but was withdrawn in 2008 at the request of the applicants, according to city planner Mike Ascione.

As designed, the project has only a single exit via Dockweiler Drive, which raised safety and traffic concerns for commissioners. 

“These people only have one way to get out and then it looks like there would be a traffic jam in a major fire,” said Commissioner Lisa Eichman. “It just doesn’t really sit right with me to approve the project with one access point.”

Developers Dockweiler 21 LLC did consider a secondary access point off of Sierra Highway at one point but abandoned the idea due to concerns over high-speed traffic on the road and into the community, according to Kevin Harbison with Dockweiler 21. 

Under the Los Angeles County Fire Department code, the project is not obliged to build a secondary exit as one would be needed for developments with more than 150 units, said Ascione.

Traffic is not expected to increase significantly, either, according to city planning staff. With the Dockweiler Drive extension project moving forward, which aims to reduce traffic by connecting the street to Railroad Avenue at 13th Street, an estimated 15,000 to 17,000 cars daily are anticipated. To compare, McBean Parkway sees about 30,000 vehicles every day.  

Unanimous approval of the Dockweiler 21 LLC project came after commissioners directed staff to work with the developer and the Fire Department in exploring a secondary exit point from Sierra Highway. 

Commissioners also directed the reduction of construction hours to decrease noise levels for surrounding residents, as well as asked for a sign to be placed at the entrance of the project site with contact information should residents want to complain. 

Developers will now have to submit engineering design drafts to the city as the project progresses.

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