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Approval for College Plan Seen : Development: The county Planning Commission appears likely to let a Baptist Bible college sell land for a housing project.

December 02, 1990|JAMES RAINEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission appears ready to support a Christian college's plan to rebuild its campus in San Dimas and sell much of its land to a developer for construction of 114 homes.

The commission's four members indicated at a public hearing Thursday that they will not heed the calls of neighboring residents to reduce the scope of a joint venture by Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College and Century American Corp.

While the commissioners did not explicitly say how they will vote when the matter returns to them Dec. 13, all four asked the college to return with only one concession--granting 9.5 acres of land for the county to add to the adjoining Walnut Creek wilderness area.

The college had already promised to dedicate 70 acres of open space next to the campus and proposed housing tract.

The Regional Planning Commission has discretion over the project because the college's 150-acre campus is part of an island of unincorporated county territory, although surrounded on all sides by the city of San Dimas.

The commission's recommendation will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors.

Construction plans call for a new Bible college campus on about 20 acres that would replace the run-down buildings currently at the same location. Another 53 acres would be sold to Century American for construction of luxury homes, with the college's remaining property granted to the county for open space.

The college plans to sell the land to the home builder to pay for construction of the new campus.

The plan presented to the Regional Planning Commission last week was essentially the same as the one neighbors protested at a hearing in late September. The developer made one change--reducing grading for an entry road at the north end of the campus so that 75 fewer oak trees would be uprooted. The original plan proposed removing 361 oaks, compared to 286 in the revision.

Several San Dimas residents told the commission Thursday that the new campus and houses would destroy a wooded canyon area that is home to a variety of wildlife. They asked the commission to recommend a reduction in the number of homes or in the size of the campus, which will have a maximum enrollment of 500 students.

One neighbor suggested that Century American be allowed to build just 75 homes.

The homeowners received support from Jack L. Bath, a biology professor from Cal Poly Pomona, who said county planners were guilty of "biological negligence" because an environmental impact report did not consider potential damage to a number of animals, including two bird species--the burrowing owl and the black-tailed gnatcatcher.

He also said the environmental report also did not assess the extent of "road kill"--the number of mammals that would be run over by the increased traffic in Walnut Creek canyon. Nor was the impact of grading and removal of some native plants on animals measured, Bath said.

Barry Cottle, a Century American executive, said the company has made an extensive assessment of environmental impacts of construction and that the dedication of nearly 80 acres of open space will be a significant contribution to the ecology of the area.

He said the developer has already compromised, reducing earlier plans to build as many as 182 homes.

Besides dedication of additional open space, Commissioner Clinton C. Ternstrom said he will ask for assurances that sporting events, concerts and other activities at the college will not disturb neighboring homeowners.

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