SAN DIMAS – The former site of a citrus grove and a luxurious ranch house where vodka flowed freely at dinner parties could soon sprout single-family homes. The lot lines for an 18-home development on a historic knoll where developers have been trying to build for years were approved last week by the City Council. The Dunnings, a prominent San Dimas family, owned acres of citrus groves in the city’s early days, including the 7.75 vacant acres along Lone Hill Avenue where the houses would be built. The Walton Development Co. project would build houses ranging from 3,697 square feet to 4,670 square feet, said the city’s planning manager, Craig Hensley. The developer will also preserve the knoll where the ranch house once stood by turning the hill into a private park for the gated development, he said. Developers have proposed plans at least three times since 1989. Two sets of plans were never approved, and the third sputtered out before construction began, Hensley noted. That may have been for the best, Councilman John Ebiner said, praising the Walton development. “This has an advantage of quality over all the past proposals,” Hensley said. “One of the differences is that this is the first plan the City Council has seen that preserved the knoll.” Other plans would have flattened the knoll, he said. He also praised the small scale of the second floors on all of the houses, which ranged from 15 percent to 60 percent of the size of the first floors. “A second floor that’s the same size and footprint of the first floor looks like a two-story box,” Hensley said. Vera Dunning was a Russian refugee, a minor aristocrat who fled during the Bolshevik revolution, Mayor Curtis Morris said. Former Mayor Marvin Ersher regaled the City Council with memories of Dunning’s vodka-soaked dinner parties. After Vera Dunning’s death in the 1980s, the ranch house was abandoned and fell into disrepair. Much of the land had long been sold off, and is now covered by houses, a Ralphs shopping center, Lowes home improvement store and other buildings, Hensley said. The Walton development still needs approval for the design of the houses, and it will likely be several months before construction begins, Hensley added. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2730160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!