The fate of an approved housing development near a hillside monastery in Sierra Madre will now go to voters.
The San Gabriel Valley city will hold a special election on May 9 on whether to approve 42 homes on 17 acres south of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center at 700 North Sunnyside Avenue, the Pasadena Star-News reported. The development would replace open fields.
The project known as The Meadow at Bailey Canyons was outlined in an April 2020 memorandum of understanding between the city and the Congregation of the Passion, Mater Dolorosa Community, which owns the property across from Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park.
If approved by voters, it would be developed by Santa Monica-based New Urban West. The homes would be built to reflect the city’s design heritage, according to its website.
Despite opposition from residents concerned about traffic, wildfire protection and water supply, the project was approved last September, with concessions such as public easements, a 3-acre public park and payments for public safety and water supply impacts.
A citizen-initiated referendum, Measure M, will take the issue directly to the voters.
Backers of The Meadow who support Measure M, including the Sierra Madre City Council, say voting for the project would actually minimize development. They say not voting for it would open the door to even more homes.
“If Measure M fails, the city will be required to process the application for a 50-home development at the Meadows property,” the Yes on M argument reads. “A no vote opens the door for that 50-home development, which will be subject to only five public meetings and could eliminate the benefits the city negotiated for the Meadows project.”
Those against Measure M say the project will harm the environment and disturb surrounding communities.
“Instead of abiding by the rules that apply to the rest of us, an exclusive ‘Special Plan’ governs the project,” the No on M argument states. “Thus, the developer can pack large, multimillion-dollar houses on small lots that are not affordable for most families.”
Mater Dolorosa, a monastery founded in 1926, sits on 88 acres, 45 of which are hillside, 23 of which are dedicated to the retreat center and 20 of which are below the retreat center and known as “The Meadows,” according to Coloradoboulevard.net.
The Passionists of Holy Cross Province determined it needed to develop the Meadows portion of the retreat center to help support its global ministry programs and care for its senior priests and brothers, who now have an average age of 77.
— Dana Bartholomew