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Diamond Bar Approves Plan for 200 New Houses

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The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that the city of Diamond Bar has approved a development deal, specific plan, and zoning changes to bring houses to 30 acres of prime property. The deal is also a financial windfall for the local school district. The property in question is owned by the Walnut Valley Unified School District, which has been trying to sell the property since the 1980s but hasn't been granted zoning changes needed to finish a deal until now. The terms of the current deal would allow the construction of up to 200 houses on the site--only residential development will be allowed, according to the SGVT. The school district is so excited about the package of ordinances approved by the city council for Site D--an empty lot at the southeast corner of Brea Canyon Road and Diamond Bar Boulevard--that the land is expected to go out to bid next week. As for how the property is expected to fare on the market, Jack LaBrun, assistant superintendent of business services for the school district, told the Diamond Bar City Council last month that the land is on the "radar screen of 44 different developers."

The site ran the gamut of development proposals until this week's approval. Angling for sales tax revenues, "the city wanted half the land to be used for commercial and half residential. The city was angling for a big box store or a supermarket - anything that would bring in sales tax dollars." Both local residents and the school district objected to commercial uses, however. Residents also opposed a plan that would have brought apartments to the site. Even though it couldn't get the tax revenue that would be generated by a hotel or retails uses, the terms approved by the city this week will require the developer that purchases the land to pay the city up to $3 million when the project is completed.

By law, the school district cannot accept less than $25 million for the land--the appraised value. That money is expected to present a significant boost to school district coffers. According to School Board Member Larry Redinger: "[$25 million] represents a fourth of our operating budget for the year." The school district has declining enrollment and no need for new facilities.
· New 200-home project approved in Diamond Bar will benefit school district [San Gabriel Valley Tribune]