By Shel Segal, Beacon Media News
As the Sierra Madre City Council passed a moratorium on new construction requiring a water connection at its July 9 meeting, the proposed development of a portion of open space at the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in the north part of the city is met with new challenges.
And as the passionists are preparing to sell that land for the construction of approximately 50 new homes, Cameron Thornton, spokesman for the group, said the moratorium doesn’t exactly kill the project.
“The short answer is nothing,” said Thornton in response to the question what does the moratorium do to the proposed sale. “My expectation is that the moratorium will allow for more civil conversations and honest exchanges of information without emotion being tossed into the mix.”
Thornton added the passionists are in this challenge for the long haul and are hoping the community gives them the guidance they seek.
“Mater Dolorosa and our development partner have invested significant resources searching for long-term solutions to the pressing challenges we are faced with,” he said. “The purpose of our current community outreach is to invite all who wish to share their opinions an opportunity to meet with us in small group settings. We want to hear from our fellow citizens, providing them with the opportunity to voice their concerns and address their desires as we move forward with designing our project.”
While fighting to stop the development of Mater Dolorosa, Matt Bryant, spokesman for Coalition to Preserve Mater Dolorosa and Stop the Housing Project, said the group’s efforts are really coming to fruition.
“I think this has become a bigger issue than just Mater Dolorosa,” Bryant said. “I think it’s about preserving Sierra Madre, putting Sierra Madre on a sustainable path. Certainly, you’ve got the water emergency. Everybody sees that. Everybody feels the impact of that.”
Bryant said his group was able to shed light on bigger problems in Sierra Madre, not just those right in their neighborhood.
“You also have the infrastructure issues, you have the general plan commandment’s preserving open space and things like that,” he said. “It’s not just about Mater Dolorosa anymore.”
He added he thinks the moratorium was the correct move for the city council to make.
“It would be irresponsible to be any less than that,” he said. “There are just too many things in motion right now. The state already declared an emergency (because of the drought) and now they’re thinking of enacting some other measures, too. You’ve got the situation with the connection to the (Metropolitan Water District). You’ve got the yellow and unhealthy water we all experience. And you’ve got a general plan that’s in the process of getting finalized and approved. Until we kind of get a handle on some of these things … you just have to freeze everything and not put any more stress on our existing resources.”
(Shel Segal can be reached at [email protected] He can be followed via Twitter @segallanded.)