By Raymond Mendoza
Walnut – The Walnut City Council met recently to discuss a hotly debated tract of land near Silver Valley Trail and Cantel Place, along with a full agenda of items.To start, the Walnut Valley Symphony and Master Chorale gave a short holiday performance for the Council and its attendees. The group sang “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night” during their short performance; which was met with much applause by community members.
The Council then recognized Fujiyama Nursery as Walnut’s 2014 Business of the Quarter for their service to the City and 50 years of operation. Mayor Nancy Tragarz stated that the 50 years in business was quite a feat, lasting through years of financial trends and showing that hard work means prosperity in Walnut.
“50 years of service is almost as old as the City,” Tragarz said. “We would like to recognize your dedication and great effort of your business.”
The Council then went on to approve the minutes for the Oct. 22 City Council and Walnut Housing Authority meeting along with the Nov. 12 City Council special meeting.
The meeting’s public hearing item, which repealed parts of Walnut’s Municipal Code relating to residency restrictions for sex offenders, was also adopted.
All items on the consent calendar were approved, including a resolution allowing the claims and demands in the amount of $1,600,907.43, a submittal of application for all CalRecyle Grants, for which the City is eligible, amendments to the City Manager’s contract, an additional appropriation to proposition A for a Dial-A-Cab Program photo identification system, the request for appropriation of $81,355 from the 25 Fund to Account 01-5600-6216 to complete the Meadowpass Road Conservation Easement Transfer, the reappointment of Council member Mary Su to the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District Board of Trustees to a two-year term, the final acceptance of the Amar Road Rehabilitation Project, and the five-year extension of solid waste and street sweeping contracts with Valley Vista Services with no CPI rate increase for 2015-2016.
The Council then stated discussions for its biggest item of the night, the clarification of City Council determination regarding the Dec. 11, 2013 appeal of tentative tract map number 53924.
According to the night’s debates and discussions, several citizens brought up various concerns for a tract of land near Silver Valley Trail and Cantel Place, which has been in the process of being developed into six residential lots for several years. The residents claimed that developer, Han Harijanto, was not in compliance with the City of Walnut Oak and Walnut Tree preservation ordinance. The subdivision is also not consistent with the City’s Rural Overlay Design guidelines, and a mandated Negative Declaration inadequately addressed the preservation of trees.
During the meeting, several residents of the area expressed their concerns to have the plans of the tract sent back to the Planning Commission stage in order to get changes done.
Harijanto, who was also present at the meeting, said his developments have been delayed for many months and that bringing his plans back to the Planning Commission would cost him thousands of dollars since the development plans would need another environmental impact report, engineer review and other services.
Residents claimed that allowing the development to take place would fly in the face of many City ordinances, specifically when concerning the trees in the area.
After a back and forth between the Council and neighborhood residents that lasted more than 60 minutes, an exasperated Harijanto said, “We’ve done everything we can … it’s almost been six years.”
However, the City Council sided with the residents and decided to have the tentative tract map sent back to the Planning Commission in order to have a more in-depth tree study completed to appease residents.
Tragarz said to help with some of the financial burden of the development, the City would waive its administration fees associated with bringing the subdivision back to the Planning Commission.
After announcements by the City Council members and staff, the meeting was adjourned with plans to meet again after the New Year on Jan. 14, 2015 at 7 p.m., in the Council chambers at 21201 La Puente Road.