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Residents fight Sierra La Verne development

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https://lvcampustimes.org/2018/09/residents-fight-sierra-la-verne-development/

Danielle De Luna
Staff Writer

Following resident-led efforts to protect the Marshall Canyon Golf Course, the city of La Verne took proactive measures to address community concerns about the pending sale of the Sierra La Verne Country Club last month.

The private country club is located along the east side of Wheeler Avenue and south of Golden Hills Road amid residential neighborhoods. It spans approximately 111 acres according to a property listing on the Hoffman Company’s website.

City of La Verne Community Development Director Eric Scherer sent a letter to the Hoffman Company Aug. 14 in response to a marketing brochure attached to the Sierra La Verne listing advertising the property as a “residential entitlement opportunity.”

Brokers were informed that zoning laws prohibit residential development on the property, and that the city intends to inform all inquiring developers of these limitations as well as environmental constraints, according to the letter posted on the city of La Verne’s website.

“We had to be proactive and tell them no,” Scherer said. “No matter what they put in their marketing material, at the end of the day the property still has an open space designation which prohibits any development.”

The Hoffman Company did not respond to interview requests concerning their marketing materials.

However, they responded promptly to the city’s letter, Scherer said.

“They expressed that they understood the city’s concerns, and they also indicated that their first priority was to try and find another golf course operator to purchase the property and continue to use it as a golf course,” Scherer said.

La Verne Land Conservancy President Katherine Winsor said she learned of the Hoffman Company’s marketing package from another member of the conservancy. Winsor promptly posted the information to Nextdoor, a social networking site designed for neighborhoods.

“I decided to post it because it concerns me, and I knew the community would get up in arms about it like they did with Marshall Canyon,” Winsor said.

Many, like La Verne resident Kelsey Kenz, voiced their opposition to the possibility of residential development in the comments section.

“If there’s a meeting on it please let us know when and we’ll be there to say NO” Kenz posted.

Winsor says residents have taken more interest in city affairs concerning north La Verne’s golf courses since 2015, when Lewis Homes attempted secure a deal with Los Angeles County to swap the Sierra La Verne Country Club for the Marshall Canyon Golf Course.

The trade would have transformed the private Sierra La Verne Country Club into a public course owned by the county, allowing Lewis Homes to annex the Marshall Canyon Golf Course to the city of La Verne. Once annexed, Lewis Homes intended to build a large gated residential community in its place.

The land conservancy united with residents to raise awareness and petition to protect Marshall Canyon said Winsor. It was their efforts that resulted in the city’s decision to oppose the county’s plan via letter.

Resident Richard Bowen, who has been involved in city affairs since Marshall Canyon, said, “I got involved because the city was saying nothing. It’s been a couple years now that I’ve been asking a lot of questions.”

Unlike the Marshall Canyon Golf Course, the Sierra La Verne Country Club is within control of the city under a conditional use permit. Scherer said if a developer decided to take the risk, they would have to file an application with the city to develop the property and change the zoning.

“Once they file an official application with us, it would still probably take over a year for us to process it in order for the final decision to be before the city council,” Scherer said. “There’s a lot of work that has to be done if that happens.”

Danielle De Luna can be reached at danielle.deluna@laverne.edu.

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