Saturday, April 17, 2004

Developer reassessing

Amberley rejects proposed Crest Hills homes development

By Anna Michael
Enquirer contributor

AMBERLEY VILLAGE - The 133 acres at the former Crest Hills Country Club off Ridge and Galbraith roads will remain zoned as a park and free from development, as least for the time being.

After weeks of debate, Village Council this week rejected by a 4-2 vote a rezoning request which would have changed the land to residential classifications.

According to Mayor Charles Kamine, the council's decision has left developer Hal Silverman, president of Hal Homes, with three options: Walk away from his contract with The Ridge Club, owner of the land (Kamine said the contract was contingent upon the rezoning); buy the land and bring another rezoning proposal to council; or file a lawsuit claiming that the zoning is unconstitutional.

Silverman would not elaborate on his plans. "We are evaluating our options," he said Friday, "and we will come to a decision,"

The third of three public hearings drew a crowd of nearly 300 residents to the Rockdale Temple on Wednesday night.

Before the meeting, Kamine told the crowd that he was pleased with the amount of interest the residents have shown in the land. He said he enjoyed watching the democratic process.

More than 30 residents addressed council with concerns and ideas for the land.Although the majority of the people who spoke were against the rezoning, a handful of residents had hoped for a different outcome.

"I would like (Amberley) better if we're better taken care of," five-year resident Annick Stevenson said. "I am not very optimistic. I fear a lawsuit."

Stevenson and other supporters of the rezoning cited the much-needed revenue the proposed 90-house development would bring to the village.

Other supporters of the rezoning noted that the land is privately owned and the village would have to buy it for residents to be able to use it.

After the vote, Stevenson said she was afraid of the possibility of a tax increase.

Many of those against the rezoning said publicly that they would be willing to pay higher taxes to keep the land zoned as a park.

Thirty-eight-year resident Abe Schwartz said he was pleased with the number of residents who came to reject the rezoning.

"I am happy, and I hope it sticks," Schwartz said. "There may be other moves to be made."

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