An environmentalist group and a pair of residents are appealing the Sept. 1 approval of Sterling Ranch, a housing development expected to bring 222 single-family lots and a pair of parks to about 114 acres in Val Verde.
The project’s developer, who was represented in front of the county Department of Regional Planning by Hunt Williams, a member of the family who owns the lot, said the project fills an important need, as there’s a statewide housing shortage and a growing demand for homes in the area.
He was not immediately available for comment Wednesday in response to news of the appeal.
Opponents mentioned concerns during the Sept. 1 hearing over the homes’ proximity to Chiquita Canyon Landfill, which is currently the subject of an emergency remediation effort from county- and state-mandated task forces trying to reduce a smell that’s prompted thousands of complaints from its neighbors.
“It’s a little over a mile away … but the odors are just as bad,” according to Lynne Plambeck, president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment. “People are smelling (the odors) in Castaic. It’s everywhere.”
Plambeck also said the state recently passed Senate Bill 1137 to restrict how close homes can be to an abandoned oil well, so she questioned why it would make sense to build that close to a problematic landfill.
Frank Miscione, a civil engineer, also shared concerns about the area’s hydrology, particularly its susceptibility to flooding, which he said wasn’t adequately addressed in the project’s review. Abigail Desesa Ordway, a Val Verde resident who also sits on the area’s town council, shared her concerns as a neighbor of the project who called the landfill situation “a living hell” in a previous conversation.
The appeal was filed Monday, said Plambeck.
The next step is for the Board of Supervisors to review the appeal, and the county’s Executive Office, which is in charge of scheduling such reviews, indicated a hearing would likely be in November or December, she added.
When county planning Commissioner Elvin Moon asked about an affordable housing component for the project, Williams and county staff said the project was initially entitled years ago, prior to the requirement for a multifamily or housing density component.
Williams said as a concession to support those without homes, the project was donating $888,000 — $4,000 for each unit — which is to be split between Bridge to Home and Family Promise, as a condition of approval.