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Council Grants More Time for Appeal of Lexus Construction Project

In order to allow for more public input and time for appellants to prepare their case, City Council members have designated Dec. 19 as the date they'll decide on the issue.

The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to allow more time for the public to comment and attorneys to prepare an appeal of a Planning Commission green light for a major remodel of the Jim Falk Lexus dealership.

Members agreed on the Dec. 19 council meeting as the date for a public hearing and final decision on whether to allow the auto sales business at 9230 Wilshire Blvd. to significantly expand its service and repair department.

Residents who live adjacent to the dealership claim a service center the size of the proposed construction project is too industrial for an area designated as a residential zone.

"No service facility of the magnitude of the Lexus proposed facility has ever been approved adjacent to any residential properties within the city of Beverly Hills," according to a letter of appeal by attorney Stephen Webb, who represents the owners of an apartment complex and a commercial office building near the Lexus property.

"What is being proposed is a substantial 70-service bay facility with sales and leasing being the incidental use," the appeal letter states. "Of the 200,000 square feet of gross building area, only a combined 39,000 square feet on the first and second floors are devoted to the sale and leasing of vehicles, which also includes administrative offices that support the service facility. On the other hand, approximately 60,000 square feet is devoted exclusively to the actual service repair of vehicles."

Residents who spoke at the council meeting questioned the level of public notice of the proposed project prior to Planning Commission approval, as well as increased traffic that will result from the construction and the expanded auto service facility.

Attorney Mitchell Dawson spoke on behalf of Jim Falk Lexus and told council members the dealership is under pressure from Lexus' corporate managers to get the project moving forward.

"It may not sound like a lot ... but two weeks or four weeks is a great deal of time when you have that pressure, when you run a franchise that has run out of time and you have a corporate office that is running out of patience over years," Dawson said. "This project has been vetted and vetted very carefully."

City Planning staff recommended the Dec. 6 council meeting for a public hearing on the matter, but scheduling conflicts with the appellants and the call for a Planning Commission town hall meeting to hear residents' thoughts on the project drove council members to settle on Dec. 19.

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