CITY WANTS CAR DEALER TO LOWER LOT; FACILITY'S AESTHETICS AT ISSUE, SANTA CLARITA PLANNERS SAY.
It's just a small strip of land along Magic Mountain Parkway approaching Valencia Boulevard, but it has required a bit of negotiating between the city and Terry York Motors.
The car dealership bought the narrow stretch of greenbelt from The Newhall Land and Farming Company, intending to build a used-car lot.
After dealership representatives talked with Santa Clarita planners regarding part of the project, the dealership had the property graded before getting official approval, believing the work would meet with city requirements, said city Planning Manager Jeff Lambert.
Instead, city administrators decided that the project went against their intentions, he said.
The problem: The cars were supposed to sit below a berm that would hide their underbellies from passing motorists, Lambert said. Instead, drivers cruising down Magic Mountain Parkway can see the wheels and axles at eye level as they pass - an unattractive sight for Valencia's gateway, he said.
``We're trying to preserve the aesthetic nature of Valencia,'' Lambert said. ``It was supposed to be sunk in so you could only see the cars from the headlights up.''
Both parties have acknowledged that miscommunication occurred somewhere along the planning process, Lambert said. Terry York Motors representatives did not return telephone calls Wednesday.
So far, the parties have agreed that the used-car lot will be regraded so that it sits lower, behind the berm, Lambert said. But they are still debating how to handle the rest of the property, which the company plans to use to expand the lot, he said.
The city Planning Commission discussion Tuesday night on the design plans was continued to Dec. 2.
The city wants a 6-1/2-foot setback from the curb as well as shrubs and trees to buffer the lot from the street. Terry York Motors representatives want a 3-1/2-foot setback, and argue that the lower grading and shrubs should be satisfactory in approving the appearance of the lot, Lambert said.
``(The city) staff is willing to budge if there's enough screening - either shrubs or lowering the grade more, or some combination of all those things,'' he said.
Lambert said he hopes the two parties agree to a solution before the Dec. 2 meeting. Otherwise, the Planning Commission could be forced to make a decision without an agreement, he said.
Photo: Auto dealer Terry York wants the city to let him turn this greenbelt along Magic Mountain Parkway in Valencia into a used-car lot.
Shaun Dyer/Special to the Daily News